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What Does SPF Mean and Which Sunscreen Is Right For Your Skin

Which SPF Is Right For You?

I went to the drugstore to pick up some sunscreen and the endless shelves of bottles is astounding. Have you ever thought, "What's with all the different SPF numbers?" If you're confused by what the numbers mean and how you choose the right one for your skin type, you're not alone.

To learn more about which SPF you should use click here.

For starters, SPF stands for sun protection factor. The numbers don't refer to how long you can spend outside without getting a sunburn, they refer to the amount of UVB protection the product offers. Sunscreens with SPF 15 filter out 93 percent of UVB rays, SPF 30 filters out 97 percent, SPF 50 blocks 98 percent, and SPF 100 blocks 99 percent of UVB rays.

The thing is, wearing a sunscreen with a higher number won't allow you to stay out longer, since the effectiveness of sunscreen decreases over time. Plus if you're active, either swimming or sweating in the sun, the moisture can wash sunscreen away, leaving your skin less protected. So choose a sunscreen with at least an SPF 15. If you have fair skin that burns easily, choose a higher SPF. Since UVA rays lead to wrinkling and sun spots, you want to make sure the bottle also says it's a broad-spectrum sunscreen, meaning it protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Reapply sunscreen every two hours — don't wait to see if your skin is turning red before reapplying since a sunburn may take up to 24 hours to appear fully.

Join The Conversation
hyper-somnia hyper-somnia 8 years
I have sensitive skin that reacts to nearly everything too. It makes it a little difficult to find a good sunscreen but the Neutrogena sunblock stick works well with no bad reactions. I keep it in my bag all the time with my make-up so I can touch it up any time.
bigestivediscuit bigestivediscuit 8 years
I use an SPF 30 spray lotion and it works for me - I still get a good tan! I am all into sun protection.
haphazardness haphazardness 8 years
Hamilton protects against UVC as well! Until I saw that when I went to buy some sunscreen, I didn't even know UVC existed. If only they sold lotion-like zinc in sunscreen qualities.
doogirl doogirl 8 years
I like an SPF 30, it seems to work the best for me and my family. You just have to make sure it's broad-spectrum sunblock, and be sure to reapply often!!! The aerosol spray sunblocks are great because they apply quickly, are easy to use, and get everywhere!
BalooB BalooB 8 years
I think in the southern hemisphere it is recommended that one uses AT LEAST an SPF 30 because the UV rays are so much more direct.
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