Sunscreen has been a highly overlooked skincare product for years. Fortunately, it is now gaining popularity as more and more people start to understand the importance of a good sunscreen. Irrespective of whether you step out in the sun or not, irrespective of the season, sunscreen is a must-have in every skincare routine. And one important thing to consider while you buy sunscreen is the SPF factor in sunscreen. Don't know what SPF is or simply want to know a little more about it? We have got you covered. In this blog, let's learn all about SPF and what it does in sunscreen.
What is SPF?
Sunscreen's SPF, meaning Sun Protection Factor, is a numerical measure that indicates a sunscreen's effectiveness in shielding your skin from the sun's harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation. SPF specifically indicates the level of protection you get against UVB rays. These ultraviolet rays are the primary cause of sunburn and can also put you at risk of getting skin cancer. For instance, an SPF 30 sunscreen means it will take 30 times longer for your skin to burn compared to not using sunscreen at all. However, it's important to note that SPF doesn't provide a linear increase in protection. An SPF 30 sunscreen filters about 97% of UVB rays, while an SPF 50 filters about 98%. And that's why reapplication is a must, regardless of the SPF value of your sunscreen.
How Does SPF Work?
SPF or sun protection factor works by incorporating a combination of organic and inorganic compounds in its formulation. Inorganic compounds, often minerals like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, act as physical blockers, reflecting and scattering UV rays away from the skin's surface. Organic compounds, on the other hand, absorb and dissipate UV radiation through a chemical reaction that converts the energy into heat. If your sunscreen primarily has inorganic compounds, it'll come under the category of physical sunscreens. Meanwhile, if your sunscreen primarily consists of organic compounds that chemically react with the UV rays, your sunscreen falls under the category of mineral sunscreens. Whether you use physical or mineral sunscreen, as long as it comes with a good SPF rating, it should protect you from harmful UV rays.
SPF Rating Scale
The SPF is the best way to understand the level of protection your sunscreen will give you. It ranges from 15 to 100 or sometimes even more. Here's a breakdown of what different SPF values signify:
SPF 15: Provides adequate protection for daily activities with very minimal sun exposure. It is an ideal SPF rating for makeup or other skincare products. However, to get better sun protection you might need a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher.
SPF 30-50: Offers excellent protection for most individuals, even during extended sun exposure. Any sunscreen with an SPF rating of 30 or above can protect you from over 97% of UVB rays.
SPF 50+: Recommended for those with fair or sensitive skin, or when engaging in intense outdoor activities. Melanin protects your skin from harmful UV rays to an extent. However, if you are really fair or have sensitive skin, you might need some additional sun protection with a SPF rating of 50 or more.
Remember, regardless of the SPF, regular reapplication every two hours is crucial, especially after swimming or sweating.
How to Choose the Right SPF for Your Skin?
Selecting the appropriate SPF depends on several factors:
Skin Type: Fair or sensitive skin may benefit from higher SPFs like 50+, while medium to dark skin tones can opt for an SPF of 30-50.
Sensitivity: If you have sensitive skin or suffer from any skin conditions, opt for a hypoallergenic and fragrance-free formula.
Sun Exposure: Extended outdoor activities call for a higher SPF, while daily routines may suffice with an SPF of 30-50.
Climate: In regions with intense sun exposure, higher SPFs provide added protection.
Always consider these factors while choosing your sunscreen.
SPF Myths and Misconceptions
Dark Skin Doesn't Need Sunscreen: False. While darker skin tones have more melanin, they are not immune to sun damage or skin cancer. Everyone benefits from sunscreen.
Higher SPF Offers All-Day Protection: Not true. Regardless of SPF, reapplication every two hours is vital for consistent protection.
Waterproof Sunscreen Doesn't Need Reapplication: Misleading.All sunscreens, even water-resistant ones, should be reapplied after swimming or sweating.
Why Choose Broad-spectrum Sunscreen?
We all learned how SPF protects your skin from UVB rays. However, your skin also needs protection from UVA rays. The rating system in sunscreens that indicates their ability to protect from UVA rays is the PA rating system. Your sunscreen should have a PA rating or PA++ or more to give your skin adequate sun protection. So, always choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen that safeguards your skin against both UVA and UVB rays.
Now, if you are looking for some amazing recommendations for broad-spectrum sunscreens, check out the Pond's Serum Boost Sunscreen range. This range includes sunscreens ranging from SPF 35 to SPF 55. These sunscreens also come in various formulations including a serum sunscreen, gel sunscreen and cream sunscreen. These are also broad-spectrum sunscreens that come with a rating of PA++ and more. Here's a list of sunscreens that you can choose from:
Now, carefully choose the sunscreen that best suits your skin and apply generously to keep your skin protected.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does SPF stand for?
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. It indicates the level of protection a sunscreen can provide from UVB rays. The minimum SPF requirement for adequate sun protection is SPF 30.
Is SPF 30 or 50 better?
Both SPF 30 and 50 offer excellent protection. While SPF 30 blocks out 97% of UVB rays, SPF 50 blocks out 98% of UVB rays. The choice depends on factors like sun exposure, skin sensitivity, and more.
Does SPF 50 mean 50 minutes?
No, SPF 50 indicates that it will take 50 times longer for your skin to burn compared to no sunscreen. However, reapplication every two hours is crucial.
Should I use SPF 50 every day?
Yes, you should use SPF 50 sunscreen every day. Daily use of sunscreen with SPF 30-50 is recommended, even on cloudy days or when indoors, as UV rays can penetrate windows.
How much SPF is normal?
For most individuals, SPF 30-50 is suitable. However, those with fair or sensitive skin may benefit from SPF 50+. Always consider skin type, sensitivity, and sun exposure when choosing an SPF.