The Benefits of Sun Protection Factors
What is SPF? Sunscreen, often called a sunblock or sunscreen, is any cream, spray, gel or foam, sealant, stick or other cosmetic product that reflects or absorbs some of the ultraviolet radiation of the sun and so helps prevent sunburn. The best products are designed to have an SPF of at least 30 and preferably higher. It is the number one protection for preventing sun damage. The higher the SPF, the better the protection, but what is SPF and how to apply it vary from brand to brand.
The major categories of sunscreens are oil-based, water-based, chemical, silicone, organic, and protein. Oil-based products are the best for you, as they have the best SPF, although many also contain alcohol. Water-based products are not as effective in blocking the sun’s UV rays. However, water-based products do give some of their antioxidant properties. Silicone based sunscreens are the most popular, but they have too many disadvantages. Organic and protein based sunscreens are the best, with the most benefits for your skin type.
The sun protection factor or SPF refers to how many UVA and UVB rays are blocked by the product on an area. SPF refers to the total ultraviolet light blockage. For example, an SPF of 15 would block 80% of the UVB rays. If there were no SPF in the product, you would only get a very little protection and therefore you would only benefit from the SPF if you were to wear the product on an exposed skin area like the face.
In choosing an SPF product, there is something to consider first. Sunscreens prevent sunburn, but are they really safe? Although many sunscreen lotions have lower levels of UVB rays than the manufacturer specified, prolonged use may increase your risk of skin cancer. When you use sunscreen lotions, the SPF percentage usually includes alcohol. Alcohol will react with the natural ingredients in the sunscreen and will increase your risk of skin cancer.
Sunscreens can also help prevent sun damage. They provide short-term coverage against UVB rays. If you don’t want to use a full-coverage sunscreen, choose one that contains at least 50% sun block. Sunblock should be applied liberally after rinsing off from swimming, sweating, or manual exposure to chemicals. It should be used all over the body, including exposed skin, in order to prevent uvb rays from damaging your hair, tanning beds, and other skin damage.
Sunscreens work best when combined with a moisturizer. Moisturizers provide long-term protection against UV damage. If you already have dry or sensitive skin, it’s best to avoid SPF products altogether and instead use a moisturizing product with sunscreen in it. A water-based moisturizer is the best choice.
How often you should apply sunscreen depends on where you live. In general, the SPF for UVB rays is lower in the wintertime than in the summer. Apply sunscreen protection as often as you can to reduce your risk of skin damage. You can test how often you need to apply sunscreen protection by applying a small area of your skin. A sun protection factor of fifteen is the average amount of time needed to achieve a maximum amount of UVB rays being blocked.
A sunscreen with a high SPF or a high sun protection factor of at least 15 helps prevent premature skin aging and other visible signs of aging. SPF offers excellent protection from the sun but many people only use SPF in their swimwear or when they go out in the ocean or on hot days. A high SPF sunscreen protects your skin throughout the day and should be used frequently to maintain good health.