The higher the SPF, the more sun protection... right? Unfortunately, that is not the case.
So, what is SPF? The Sun Protection Factor (SPF) actually indicates the length of TIME of added protection, not the strength. An SPF of 15 means you can be in the sun 15 times longer than you would have without any sunscreen before you start to burn. For example, if you are fair and would normally begin to burn in 3 minutes, an SPF 15 will keep you protected for 45 minutes. If you wear SPF 30, you will be protected for 90 minutes. A minimum of SPF of 30 is recommended for effective sun protection. Interestingly, there is no added benefit for using an SPF any higher than 50.
What is sunscreen vs. sunblock? Sunblock is an outdated term that implies the product completely blocks the sun. We know that no sunscreens fully block out the sun's harmful UV rays, so this term has been banned by the FDA for describing a sun protection product.
How do I know I am protected against both UV-A and UV-B rays? Look for the phrase "broad-spectrum" on the sunscreen. This indicates you are protected from both types of harmful UV rays. Physical sunscreens, such as Zinc Oxide or Titanium Dioxide always provide broad-spectrum protection. It is also important to apply PLENTY of sunscreen! An adult should wear at least 1 oz. of sunscreen (a golf ball size) with each application if trying to protect most of the body, such as at the beach.
Isn't waterproof better than water-resistant? Waterproof is another term that has been banned by the FDA for being misleading. No sunscreen is waterproof. Water-resistant sunscreens must be labeled as effective for 40 or 80 minutes to indicate how often you need to reapply. For the best protection, be sure to reapply whenever you come out of the water. Even if you are not in the water, all sunscreens must be reapplied at least every 2 hours.
What type of sunscreen should I look for? The ingredients are the most important part. For the most complete protection, look for Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide. Certain skin conditions may require you to use one type over another. Also, avoid spray sunscreens because it is difficult to get full coverage when the wind can limit how much sunscreen is actually making it onto your skin.
So what is the best sunscreen? The one you will wear! If something about your current sunscreen makes it unpleasant to apply or wear, it is unlikely you will use it as often as you should. We offer a wide variety of clinically-proven sunscreens to suit all preferences to be sure you actually enjoy and benefit from using your sunscreen. Options include multi-purpose anti-aging sunscreens, moisturizer plus sunscreen products, and sunscreens that contain tint to double as your foundation. And yes, we even have sweat-resistant sunscreen products that men are willing to wear!
If you are interested in learning more about our sunscreen options and receiving a personalized sunscreen recommendation, please schedule a complimentary consultation with one of our skincare experts.