SPF Explained

SPF Explained

As the weather warms up and the sun’s rays begin to warm the land, you shed your winter clothes and gear up for some fun in the sun.

However, the sun’s rays are not all beneficial to your skin. The sun’s light contains Ultraviolet Radiation, which is harmful for your skin, and there is only one thing that can protect your skin from it: SPF Sunscreen.

When looking for sunscreens, higher Sun Protection Factor blocks more harmful sunlight. Contrary to popular belief, the number does not show the % of blocked sunlight. SPF 35 does not block 35% of the sun, and SPF 100 does not block 100%.

SPF 15 blocks 93%, 30 blocks 97%, 50 blocks 98%, and 100 blocks 99%. The percent change may seem small, but it makes a big difference. For someone who has skin with light sensitivity, that extra % really helps make the day bearable. Anything above SPF 100 does not make any noticeable difference, though, and it will never reach 100%.

With that being said, even SPF 100 will not protect you from the harmful rays of the sun, because of one simple problem. There are two types of Ultraviolet Radiation: Ultraviolet A and Ultraviolet B.

Most US made Sunscreens only blocks Ultraviolet B rays, and not Ultraviolet A rays. This is because most (but not all) of the ingredients that block Ultraviolet A rays have not been approved for use in the US by the FDA. To make things worse, Ultraviolet A rays go deeper, and cause more long-term problems for your skin.

There is still hope, though. When you are picking Sunscreens, pick one that is labeled as “Broad Spectrum”. These Sunscreens block both types of UV Rays, and it is worth sacrificing one or two % of coverage to block both types of UV Radiation.

Hopefully, this information will help you protect your skin and prepare you to safely enjoy the great outdoors.