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Skin Care Products > Articles > Sun Protection Factor (SPF). All You Need To Know About It!

Sun Protection Factor (SPF). All You Need To Know About It!

Posted On: - 2009-07-08 03:49:01

Sunscreens are an intrinsic part of the skin care regimen. However, in spite of applying sunscreens diligently, you may still be at risk of sun damage. This may be because you are wearing the wrong SPF or not wearing it correctly. Here are some important facts that you should know about SPF and sunscreens.

Ultraviolet Rays of the Sun

Sunlight consists of three types of ultraviolet rays – UVA, UVB and UVC.

UVC rays are the most harmful out of these but fortunately they get absorbed by the ozone layer.
UVA rays penetrate deep within the skin surface and cause premature aging of the skin leading to the development of wrinkles and age spots. They may also cause certain skin cancers.
UVB rays also penetrate the skin surface and cause squamous cell and basal carcinomas and melanoma.

SPF of Sunscreens
SPF or the Sun Protection Factor is a measure of the amount of time a person can stay in the sunlight without getting burnt. For example, if you can stay under the sun for 15 minutes without getting burnt, an SPF 30 sunscreen would allow you to stay there for 450 minutes (15 X 30= 450), or 7 ½ hours.

Choosing the Right SPF
Generally an SPF 30 is enough for the daily routine. However, if you need to spend a long time under the sun, you would need to use a higher SPF sunscreen like SPF 35 OR 40. Moreover, people who have fair skin or extra sensitive skin should consider using a sunscreen with even higher SPF.

Broad Spectrum Protection
Broad spectrum protection is a common sunscreen terminology that means that the product protects against a wide variety of sun rays including the UVA and UVB rays. Generally sunscreens only protect against the UVB rays. But broad spectrum sunscreens protect against the UVA rays as well. Some of the common ingredients of broad spectrum sunscreens are titanium dioxide or zinc oxide.

Expiration of Sunscreens
Make sure you keep a check on the expiration date of your sunscreen and do not use it after that. If an expirtion period is not mentioned, you should throw away the product after two to three years.

Storage of Sunscreens
Sunscreens should be stored in a cool, dry place so that they don't lose their effectiveness. Also make sure that it is not exposed to sunlight and is tightly sealed.
Application of Sunscreens

Often it happens that in spite of applying a high SPF sunscreen, you are not safe from sun damage. This may be because you are not applying the sunscreen in the right manner. Here are some tips to apply sunscreens correctly.

Even if the sunscreen is water-resistant or water proof, it doesn't ensure protection all day long. Also note that water-resistant means that the SPF is retained till about 40 minutes after you swim or splash your face with water and waterproof means that you are protected for 80 minutes. So, make sure you carry your bottle of sunscreen with you and reapply after physical activities like exercising and swimming.

Another problem may be that you are not applying enough of the sunscreen. Ideally, you should apply an ounce of the sunscreen on all the exposed areas of your body including your ears, hands and feet. Apply the sunscreen at least 15-20 minutes before you venture out in the sunlight.

Always reapply your sunscreen even if it claims 'all day protection'. Reapply your sunscreen every two to four hours or as and when required. If you sweat a lot or are swimming or exercising, you would need to reapply more often.

Apply a lip balm with SPF contents to protect your lips against damage by the sun rays as well.

Product Suggestions

iS Clinical SPF 20 Powder Sunscreen

It is a revolutionary powder sunscreen containing physical UV blockers comprising of 25% titanium dioxide and 20% zinc oxide. It is a special nanotechnology formulation that provides sun protection against a vast spectrum of sunlight.

Nia 24 Sun Damage Prevention SPF 30
It is a physician recommended lotion that has a dual action mechanism. It prevents sun damage as well as acts as a 100% mineral sunscreen. What makes it a favorite is that it is weightless, oil free and absorbs almost instantly into the skin surface. It is even suitable for sensitive skin types.

Obagi Nu-Derm Healthy Skin Protection SPF 35
This superior sunscreen provides broad spectrum UVA/UVB sun protection that protects against premature aging and is recommended by The Skin Cancer Foundation. It contains 9% zinc oxide and 7.5% octyl methoxycinnamate to effectively filter UVA and UVB rays and protect your skin from premature aging.

Dr. Marilyn Syrett is a renowned physician and nurtures a keen interest in skin care and the effectiveness of skin care products. She believes that every women has the right to healthy and flawless skin. She has also reviewed several products from popular brand names like Obagi, iS Clinical, Clinique Medical and so on.