how to choose your SPF number.
SKIN

SUNSCREEN 101: HOW TO CHOOSE YOUR SPF NUMBER

You know summer is around the corner when the days feel longer, not only it brings sunny sunrise but you are hailed with several harmful UV rays that will leave your skin sun-tanned. Consequently you look for the best sun protection creams for keeping your skin protected from those destructive UV radiations. But have you ever wondered why your sunscreen is not serving you at all? That is only because you are not choosing your SPF correctly. There are few things you need to deem before buying yourself sunscreen. Just as every human being is bounded by diverse heat intensities the sunscreen you choose are intended accordingly in addition to having your own skin type.

A high SPF number is not the only factor to protect your skin you should always look for “broad spectrum” on the label since it will defend you from the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB rays either through blocking or absorbing the rays.

Moreover, if the sunscreen claims to be waterproof don’t fall for it because no sunscreen is fully waterproof and their after-effects will only last for 40 to 80 minutes inside water, and sooner or later your sunscreens are expected to plunge. 

SPF is not the only factor that can provide sun protection, however, your clothing can exceedingly have an upshot on your skin. Wearing UPF clothing can be a great protective measure as it is specially designed to protect your skin from UV rays. Just as SPF, UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) varies in numbers from 15 to 50 plus for instance clothing that has 50 plus UPF can block out 98% of UVA and UVB rays. 

SUNSCREEN VS SUNBLOCK

Also known as suntan lotion, chemical sunscreen, and chemical blocker this is either in the form of lotion, spray, or gel and other topical products. 

It is made up of chemical ingredients that contain octyl methoxycinnamate, octyl salicylate, and ecamsule. These chemicals help inactivate the sunlight UV rays and alter the rays into the non-damaging wavelength of heat. This reaction takes place immediately after applying.

Its texture is non-greasy and it can give you a white skin tone. 

On the other hand, sunblock is also known as a physical sunscreen, mineral, and physical blocker. It contains ingredients like titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. It acts as a shield that sits on the top layer of your skin that helps block the UV rays from entering your body. Sometimes sunblock can be strenuous to apply evenly on your skin because of its thick texture.

Unlike sunscreen, it does not leave a white cast but gets instantaneously fade away after use. 

UVA VS UVB RAYS

There are two basic types of UV rays; UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays are one of the most powerful rays that compose 95% of UV radiation that thrusts out the earth’s surface. It penetrates deep into the dermis, the inner and thickest most layer of our skin. Too much exposure to UVA rays can increase the chance of skin cancer. Furthermore, it causes our skin to lose collagen and leads to the formation of wrinkles and fine lines. 

By the time UVA rays pass through the epidermis, it harms the basal and squamous cells (also known as keratinocytes) that are to be found in the skin’s basal layer, the place where skin cancer cells are originated. The UVA rays are found to be active during every hour of the daylight and throughout every season. 

Unlike UVA, UVB rays penetrate the epidermis the outermost layer of your skin thus this is one of the main reasons for sunburn and tanning and over some time, it can cause cancer. These rays can harm your skin further between 10 AM to 4 PM all through spring, summer, and early fall. Keep in mind take some usual precautions before you step outside during these hours. UVB rays can be filtered and do not penetrate glass. 

What is SPF number? 

SPF stands for sun protection factor which tells you the amount of time it would take to protect your skin from the sun’s ultraviolet B rays. According to AAS to determine your SPF number the seconds it takes your skin to burn with the sunscreen (300) is divided by the number of seconds to burn without the sunscreen (10 sec) the number you get is your SPF number (30). 

How to choose your SPF number?

Go for SPF 15 if your skin usually burns after 10 minutes with no sunscreen on as this will protect your skin for 150 minutes long in the sun meanwhile it will block 93% of the sun’s UVB rays. As the number goes up, the proportion of protection against UVB rays vaguely increases. If we move to SPF 30, it will block 97% of UVB rays and on the other hand, SPF 50 will occlude 98% of UVB rays.

No matter whatever SPF you choose make sure to apply it after every 2 hours as your sunscreen won’t last long and it will fade away. 

The final takeaway

Keep in mind no higher amount of SPF will provide 100% protection so don’t fall into the traps that claim it does. Constantly re-apply after every two hours. Moreover, SPF will only protect you from UVB rays so always go with the broad spectrum and the water-resistant mentioned on the labels. These two additional features will bring your sunscreen two-step further. 

Furthermore, the estimation for choosing your SPF number is different for every individual, keeping in mind your skin type and intensity of the heat. Sun protection is as important in winter as it is in summer days. Remember to always buy sunscreen according to your skin type.

If you have sensitive skin prefer sunblock as sometimes sunscreen contains a chemical ingredient that might irritate your skin. If you have rosacea or allergy-prone skin then you must avoid using any sunscreen that contains fragrances, preservatives, and oxybenzone or PABA.

ALSO READ: 11 Best Alternative Uses Of Lip Balm

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