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Sun Safety 101: Determining the Right SPF for Your Sunscreen

Sunscreen is your best defense against sunburn, premature aging, and skin cancer. But with so many options available, how do you know which is the best SPF sunscreen for the face?

In this blog, we’ll explain what SPF and broad-spectrum mean, provide tips on how to use sunscreen effectively, discuss how much to apply, when to reapply, and other factors to consider when selecting a sunscreen.

UV Radiation and Skin Damage

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is a major cause of skin damage. UV radiation is divided into two types: UVA and UVB.

  • UVA rays penetrate deeply into the skin, leading to premature aging and wrinkles. They are relatively constant and present even during cloudy days.

  • UVB rays are responsible for sunburn and redness. They account for less than 5% of solar UV radiation and are strongest around noon and during the summer. UVB rays can only penetrate the upper layers of the skin and cannot get through glass. Both types of radiation can cause significant harm, making sun protection a priority.

Understanding SPF

SPF, or Sun Protection Factor, measures protection from UVB rays. Since UVB rays cause redness and sunburn, SPF was developed to measure this type of protection. Simply put, SPF is the time taken to burn with sunscreen divided by the time taken to burn without sunscreen for a specified dose of UVB. It is a rating of sunscreen versus no sunscreen. 

How Does SPF Protect Your Skin?

SPF works by extending the time you can spend in the sun without getting burned. For example, if your skin would normally start to burn after 10 minutes in the sun, an SPF 30 sunscreen theoretically allows you to stay in the sun for 300 minutes (10 minutes x SPF 30) without burning.

How Does SPF Correlate With % of UVB Radiation Blocked?

  • SPF 15: Blocks approximately 93% of UVB rays

  • SPF 30: Blocks approximately 97% of UVB rays

  • SPF 50: Blocks approximately 98% of UVB rays

Thus, while higher SPFs offer slightly better protection, the difference between SPF 30 and SPF 50 is marginal regarding the percentage of UVB radiation blocked.

Choosing the Right SPF:

When selecting the appropriate SPF for your sunscreen, consider various factors related to your location and lifestyle:

  1. Intensity of Sun Exposure: Take into account the UV index of your location. A higher UV index indicates more intense sun exposure, necessitating a higher SPF for adequate protection against harmful UVB rays.
  2. Water and Sweat Resistance: If you anticipate swimming or sweating, opt for a water-resistant sunscreen. Reapply as directed, typically every 80 minutes, to maintain effective protection against UV damage.
  3. Duration spent outdoors: Longer periods spent outdoors call for a higher SPF. If you plan to be outside for extended periods, it's advisable to choose a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.

In the past, sunscreen formulations focused primarily on UVB protection, as the immediate effects of sunburn were more apparent. However, we now know that UVA rays also contribute to skin damage. In laboratory settings, the dose of UVB required to cause sun damage is often less than that of UVA. Therefore, it's essential to select a sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum protection.

What is Broad Spectrum Protection?

Broad-spectrum protection means that sunscreen can protect your skin from both UVA and UVB rays, the two types of harmful ultraviolet radiation from the sun. While SPF measures protection against UVB rays, it does not account for UVA protection.

UVA forms a much higher proportion of solar radiation. Solar UV is 95% UVA and only 5% UVB. UVA radiation easily penetrates glass windows and hence is a threat even indoors. Due to longer wavelengths, they also penetrate much deeper into the skin.

This is why a broad-spectrum sunscreen, formulated to protect against both types of UV radiation is crucial. 

Factors to consider when choosing the Right Sunscreen

When selecting the best SPF sunscreens for the face, consider factors like broad-spectrum protection, high SPF and UVA rating, lightweight texture, non-comedogenic properties, and suitability for sensitive skin. 

One of the best SPF sunscreens for the face is Sandiva One & Done Tinted Sunblock. This tinted sunblock offers SPF 35 broad-spectrum protection, shielding your skin against both UVA and UVB rays. Its lightweight formula and 4 tints help in evening out your skin tone while providing sun protection, making it perfect for daily use. 

For reapplication throughout the day, especially over makeup, consider using Sandiva’s SPF top-up powder. This convenient product offers instant high protection from the sun, ensuring you stay protected on the go.

How to Apply Sunscreen Correctly

Proper application of sunscreen is crucial for effective protection. Follow these steps:

  • Apply generously: Use the two-finger rule to cover your face, neck, and ears.
  • Cover all exposed areas: Don't forget commonly missed spots like your ears, neck, and eyelids.
  • Reapply every two hours: Sunscreen wears off, especially if you're swimming or sweating. Reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating.

Other tips to consider:

  1. Seek shade whenever possible, especially during peak sun hours.

  2. Wear protective clothing, including hats and sunglasses, for added defense against UV rays.

  3. Avoid prolonged sun exposure, as this can increase the risk of skin damage and cancer.

In conclusion, selecting the best SPF sunscreens for the face involves understanding SPF and broad-spectrum protection and considering factors like texture and suitability for your skin type. Prioritize sun protection to safeguard your skin from the sun's harmful effects and enjoy the outdoors safely.

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