The world of sunscreens can be confusing to anyone. Terminology such as physical versus chemical blocks, broad-spectrum, UVA, UVB and the ever mystifying science behind SPF can make choosing a sunscreen a frustrating process. Read on to learn how to find your SPF number and get the most out of your sun protection.
 
What does SPF mean?
SPF stands for “sun protection factor” and it is this factor that measures your sunscreen’s effectiveness against harmful UVB rays. When considering the protection of an SPF 30 sunscreen think of it this way – if your skin normally burns after 10 minutes in the sun, a sunscreen with an SPF 30 allows you to stay in the sun without burning for approximately 300 minutes (a factor of 30 times longer). It’s important to remember that this is an estimate and not an exact number. Rates at which people achieve sun burn can vary from individual to individual. It is also important to remember that SPF does not measure how well a particular sunscreen will protect you from UVA rays, the rays associated with premature aging that cause wrinkles and blotchy skin. This is why it is especially important that you not only look at the SPF factor when choosing your sunscreen but also ensuring the label reads “broad-spectrum” or “UVA/UVB”.
 
Summer-Sand.pngWhat’s the difference between SPF 30 and 50?
It is generally recommended that most people and skin types use an SPF 30 at the very least all year round. With what science has taught us about the damaging effects of the sun’s rays and the increased risk of skin cancer, the protection provided by SPF 15 just doesn’t cut it. In terms of how much protection an SPF 30 provides versus an SPF 50, SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays and SPF 50 blocks 98% of UVB rays. Interestingly, the difference between 30 and 50 is pretty marginal at about 1%. While every bit of protection helps, people who use SPF 50 sometimes acquire a false sense of security thinking they are invincible to the sun. Whatever SPF number you use it’s important to remember that SPF is only at its most active for about 2 hours and needs to be reapplied often.
 
Does a sunscreen’s texture change the higher the SPF level?
 While product texture can change, it’s usually not very noticeable. Changes in sunscreen texture can most likely be attributed more to the types of ingredients used – physical sunscreens made with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide are usually thicker and more opaque than their chemical sunscreen counterparts. More and more medical grade skin care lines have made significant advances in their sun protection formulations, offering a variety of options with respect to form, texture and tint while providing maximum sun protection. Colourscience’s Sunforgettable Mineral Sunscreen Brush SPF 50 comes in a unique powder form, is easy to apply alone or over makeup, is sweat and water-resistant and makes reapplication throughout the day incredibly convenient.

When and how do I apply sunscreen?
It’s important to not be shy when applying sunscreen. Apply a generous amount of sunscreen about 20 minutes before you go outside and again every two hours afterwards. By forgetting to reapply every two hours you’re usually getting less than half the protection stated on the label. While this may seem like a nuisance, your skin’s health is definitely worth it.

To learn more about how you can protect your skin this summer, visit APT Med Spa for a free consultation. Be sure to also visit our e-skin store! today.