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SPF (Sun Protection Factor)

Definition: SPF (Sun Protection Factor)

I know what you're thinking: Who doesn't know what SPF is? But the truth is that every time I quiz a group of gals about their sun smarts, there's inevitably an unsure shrinking violet in the corner. I thought this would be the perfect chance to clarify what the SPF in all of the sunscreen-related beauty products actually means.

SPF, short for Sun Protection Factor, is a number that, according to the FDA, must be apparent on all sunscreens. The number indicates how long you can be exposed to the sun without turning red. For example, if you are someone who burns after 10 minutes and you apply SPF 15, then you will be shielded from turning red 15 times longer than if you didn't apply sunscreen.

Naturally, the higher number SPF you use, the more protected you'll be — and if you have fair skin, you'd be advised not to use anything less than SPF 50. It is also important to understand that sunscreens protect you by absorbing UVB and/or UVA rays. Most sunscreens shield against UVB rays, but if you really want to be sun savvy, I suggest reading the packaging carefully to ensure that it also offers UVA defense.


Join The Conversation
lovealways lovealways 9 years
I always forget to apply sunscreen on my body, except when I'm outside midday for hours to play tennis. Then, I use Neutrogena's Cooling Sunblock Spray (or something like that)'s not a pain to apply! And for my face, Neutrogena's Dry Touch Sunblock.
terryt18 terryt18 9 years
I'ma fwd this to everyone as a reminder to WEAR SUNSCREEN. I mean, did Baz Luhrman teach us nothing?
bailaoragaditana bailaoragaditana 9 years
I use SPF 50 on all exposed body parts, as I am snow white. (Well, slightly lighter than NC15, anyway.)
brittanyk brittanyk 9 years
I use Neutrogena sunscreen in spf 45. I think it's called dry touch, it's not greasy at all. It's not any more expensive than any other sunscreen. I think it's about $10 for a bottle, probably a little less, plus you can find it everywhere.
Francoisehardly Francoisehardly 9 years
I do have a higher SPF sunblock that doesn't make me feel greasy.
nals33 nals33 9 years
The higher SPFs always make me feel I've been bad about using SPF on my body until recently. I found Eucerin body lotion at Target that (unfortunately, only) has SPF 15. I use it daily! I guess SPF 15 isn't bad for me since I'm already naturally a tan color and don't get crispy (I just get and I spend a majority of my days indoors. I've been waiting years for some company to come out with body lotion that has SPF in it's about time! lol Thanks to Eucerin, I'm working SPF back into my routine. :)
gabiushka gabiushka 9 years There is more where this came from...just interesting reads.
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