All About SPF

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When it comes to sunscreens, most of us have heard of the term SPF (Sun Protection Factor). Now that summer is on its way you may be curious to learn more about SPF, how it’s measured and how important is it in choosing the right sunscreen for you and your family.

SPF measures the amount of UVB rays that a sunscreen can block. Bear in mind that sunlight is really composed of three types of UV rays – UVA, UVB and UVC. Historically we’ve been concerned with UVB rays because they are the ones associated with sunburns.  We weren’t paying attention to UVA rays, but we know now that UVA rays (the rays that penetrate deeper than UVB rays) are the ones associated with Aging as well as some types of skin cancers. UVC rays tend to burn off before they reach the earth’s surface. Experts tell us (for now at least) that we needn’t worry about them.

To measure the amount of SPF that you should be looking out for and the amount of burn protection that your sunscreen will deliver consider this:

If you burn within 10 minutes after being in the sun without any protection, then a product with an SPF of 10 will give you 10 times additional protection (100 minutes in the sun). An SPF 30 product will deliver 30 times additional protection in the sun (300 minutes) and so on. The key to adequate protection is to apply liberally and reapply often. This is especially true if you are swimming or perspiring. Applying a product with SPF 30 along with a product that has SPF 60 will NOT give you SPF 90 protection. Studies have shown that most of us do not apply sunscreen adequately.

Given that Sun Protection Factor gauges the amount of UVB protection only, it shouldn’t be your only criteria in selecting a sunscreen. You’ll want one that delivers protection against those skin aging UVA rays as well.

While there are many great UVB sun filters, there aren’t many that protect against the full range of UVA rays. Many sunscreens incorporate a combination of different ingredients to deliver what is known as ‘broad spectrum’ or ‘full spectrum’ ultraviolet protection. Ensure that your choice includes one of these.

When it comes to choosing a sunscreen that protects against both UVB and UVA rays, you can’t go wrong with either Anthelios susncreens or Ombrelle sunscreens. Both these brands are top sellers and contain a patented sun filtering system formulated with Mexoryl XL and Mexoryl SX. View our full range of sunscreens here.

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