What is SPF?

Summer is so here and most of us are wondering what sunscreen we can use. Do we really need it just in the summer and what SPF stands for?

The Sun Protection Factor (SPF) refers to the sunscreen’s ability to prevent skin from damaging UV rays. Sunscreen SPF ranges from 2 to 50 and more. For example, if you use a sunscreen with SPF factor 15 you can stay in the sun 15 times more before burning than if you don’t use it. It is good to know that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate sunscreens with SPF higher than 50 and there is no proof that this kind of sunscreen works better.

There are two types of UV rays which can cause damage on our skin: UVB and UVA.

UVB rays are invisible for naked eye and play a key role in causing sunburns and developing a skin cancer. The UVA rays penetrate deeper than UVB rays into the skin and play a major role in skin premature aging and wrinkling. Since both types of UV rays are harmful for our skin, look for the so called broad-spectrum sunscreens which protects from both UVB and UVA.

Beach Chairs Watching Ocean

According to the American Melanoma Foundation (AMF) sunscreen should be used daily and not only on sunny summer days because even in a cloudy day about 80 percent of the UV rays pass through the clouds and can cause damages on our skin. Your sunscreen should at least have one of these active ingredients: Zinc Oxide -A safe and non-irritating physical sun protectant. Titanium Dioxide- Provides physical protection from UV radiation, prevents skin damage and excessive melanin synthesis.

There are many sunscreen products on the market today but which of them are safe to use for us and our children? We have to read the ingredients and make sure that the sunscreen we buy is:

Lotion based-It is not recommended to use sprays because it can contain additional chemical and most of the oils have SPF less than 2.

Contains no parabens- This is a type of preservatives that is used to prevent growth of molds and bacteria in cosmetic products.

Mineral based ingredients that do not penetrate the skin such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.

Water resistant especially if you have outdoor physical activities.

Broad spectrum that provides protection from both UVA and UVB.

SPF not higher than 50

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