What is SPF? What does it really mean?

Elta MD Skincare SPF Laser + Skin Institute

What is SPF? What does it really mean?

SPF stands for:  Sun Protection Factor. The measure of how long sunscreen will protect you from burning. There are two types of rays broad spectrum sunscreens will protect you from. UVA (aging rays) and UVB (burning rays).

Applying sunscreen at least 15 minutes for sun exposure will allow you to make sure you are properly protected.. however the key is re application! Re applying you sun protection products every 90 minutes when out doors for long periods of time is the most important!!

If your wondering why there are so many types of sunscreens out there and which one to choose, I always recommend looking for a label that says: broad spectrum UVA/UVB. Also, check your active ingredients! — you may see things like homosalate, oxybenzone or octinoxate, those are chemical sun protectors that absorb the uv rays. These ingredients are mostly found in OTC Sunscreen moisturizers. I would suggest these are sufficient for daily use.

For your beach days, baseball games, BBQ’s and other long outdoor exposure, I recommend a “physical block” which is your Zinc oxide, and Titanium dioxide. Those ingredients will create a shield from the sun, and the rays will reflect off your skin. Also, these ingredients are more acne friendly, as well as safe for sensitive and allergy prone skin and will not cause irritation.

What number SPF should you be wearing?

Of course there are mathematical equations to figure this out, but to keep it simple: SPF 30 will be sufficient for daily use, and SPF 50 for more direct/long term exposure. Any SPF above a 50- will only give you maybe a 1% to 2% increase in protection.

We all know the sun causes skin cancer, But there is one thing that most people don’t know, or realize. The number one cause of pre mature aging is SUN EXPOSURE!! And that doesn’t only mean the days you spent on the beach without proper sun protection, its the every day- in and out of the house, in the car, your desk at work near a sunny window is absolutely considered sun exposure. SO YES!! Yo should be wearing SPF every day, even if you are not outside.

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