Do a little searching around on the internet about the topic of sunscreen, and you’ll see that everyone’s telling you that you should be wearing a good level of SPF lotion – and rightly so. Unprotected sun exposure is the quickest way to make your skin look old before its time.
However, have you ever wondered what SPF actually means and how sunscreen products work? Well, here we aim to satisfy that curiosity with some interesting facts about the product.
Explaining the Number System of SPF Lotion
We’ve all seen the sunscreen products lining drug store shelves that all seem to have different SPF numbers, and you should know that they do mean something. SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor, which relates to the amount of time regular sun exposure it protects you from before you burn.
For example, an SPF lotion with a factor of 15 will allow you to stay out in the sun 15x longer than if you weren’t wearing sunscreen, with the caveat being that you reapply it liberally every 2 hours.
The Difference Between UVA & UVB Rays
Something else that it helps to know when you’re trying to protect yourself from sun damage is that there’s more than one type of UV ray. They can both hurt the skin given long enough, but they each have different properties. UVA rays, for instance, can penetrate clouds and windows to cause sunburn.
On the other hand, UVB rays are the type that most associate with sunburn i.e. the direct rays that hit your skin on a cloudless day. Any sunscreen you buy should protect you against both.
SPF 30 Doesn’t Give You 2x The Protection of SPF 15
It’s logical to assume that an SPF 15 is going to give you half the amount of sun protection of an SPF 30, but the truth is that it’s not quite as simple as that. An SPF30 will protect you from up to 97% of UV rays, whereas an SPF15 safeguards against an equally impressive 93%.
It’s not even close to half, but it will give you twice as much time in the sun before you burn – so long as you reapply as directed.
Don’t Trust ‘Waterproof’ SPF Lotion
If you’re a fan of splashing about in the water on a hot day, then we urge you not to believe any product that claims to be waterproof. As technologically advanced as some sunscreens are these days, there still hasn’t been a product invented that qualifies as being waterproof.
The best you’re going to get is water resistance, which means you can spend up to 40 minutes in the water before you have to reapply.
Understanding How Your SPF Lotion Works Matters
If you don’t educate yourself on how sunscreen works, then you leave yourself open to believing falsehoods about the protection you’re getting – whether that’s from your friends and family or unscrupulous sunscreen manufacturers.
However, if you gain an understanding of what each product actually gives you, you’re much more likely to avoid sun damage and the signs of ageing that come along with it.