‘What SPF should I use?’ Confuse? Read the blog to get your answer.
You think higher SPF means better protection, right? However, dermatologists say wearing the higher SPF doesn’t make any difference. According to Joshua Zeichner, the director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, FDA is currently in dilemma regarding whether they should allow the labeling of SPF 100+ on sunscreens.
Prior to delving deep into the controversies regarding SPF, let’s first see what SPF is.
- What is SPF?
- How Much SPF Should You Use?
- Is SPF50+ Safe to Use?
- Should You Consult with a Dermatologist?
What is SPF?
SPF is the abbreviated form of Sun Protection Factor. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, SPF is a number denoting how long the sun’s UV rays will take to redden your skin.
Regardless of the SPF you’re using, reapply the sunscreen after every two hours. Then only can you expect to get the desired protection.
How Much SPF Should You Use?
Consider these factors to pick the right SPF.
a) Get a Broad Spectrum Sunscreen.
Always, choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun’s UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays cause tan whereas UVB rays are responsible for causing wrinkles and pigmentations. Applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen will give your skin complete protection.
b) SPF 15 for Occasional Exposure
Strolling in the park or driving to a nearby grocery doesn’t expose your skin to the sun for a long time. As such, wearing sunscreen with SPF 15 will be enough to prevent your skin from tanning.
c) SPF 30 for Long-Term Exposure
We recommend slapping SPF30 sunscreen for extended outdoor activities. Such activities can include outdoor sports, distance running, and hiking. These activities ensure hours of exposure to the sun. So, the chances of getting more tan or damaging effect increases. You need more protection. And, that’s where sunscreen having an SPF30 comes in.
Does Higher SPF Mean Better Protection?
A broad-spectrum sunscreen having SPF50 supposed to give you more protection against both UVA and UVB rays of the sun. But, that’s not the case. The difference in protection you’ll get from SPF 30 and SPF 50 is almost negligible.
The Skin Cancer Foundation says sunscreen with SPF30 allows only 3% of UVB rays to penetrate your skin whereas SPF50 sunscreen allows only 2%.
Generally, products labeling a higher SPF creates a false sense of security. You can get good protection for your skin even by applying sunscreen having SPF30. However, reapplying it after every two hours is a must. And, the reapplication rule holds true even for SPF50 sunscreens. Plus, you’ve to apply it thirty minutes before stepping out in the sun.
Also, higher SPF doesn’t mean you can stay in the sun for longer. Whatever SPF you wear, you’ll get some amount of tanning. Tanning is a sign of skin damage. Hence, try to cover your skin as much as possible while outdoor. Wear brimmed hats, sunglasses, and full-sleeve clothes for utmost protection.
Is SPF50+ Safe to Use?
As already discussed, SPF50 sunscreen gives a little more protection. It blocks almost 98% of UVB rays. But, if you’re applying sunscreen the right way, you don’t have to look for SPF50 sunscreens. In that case, even people with sensitive skin can opt for sunscreen having SPF values 15 and 30.
Should You Consult with a Dermatologist?
Definitely. Your dermatologist is the best person to get suggestions regarding the SPF. The dermatologist will consider your location, outdoor activities, and skin condition to give you the best advice.
Actually, there’s no ideal SPF. You’re at a higher risk of sun exposure if you’re living at a higher altitude. Plus, people having skin lesions also need more protection. For them, SPF50 is good. Apart from all these, get your skin checked annually if you are a skin cancer patient or have suffered from frequent tanning in the past. The sooner your skin-related issues are detected, the sooner you’ll get treatment.