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The Lowdown on SPF -- What It is And Why It Matters

As the weather warms up (and in light of current events), we’re instinctively craving time outside (seemingly more than ever, right?). But there’s one thing to remember: the sun is still there, and yes, you still need to protect yourself from it. While sunny days and the warm rays bouncing off your skin feel great, they can lead to undesirable effects (e.g. early-onset wrinkles, dark spots, and worse). In order to keep your skin glowing, and wrinkles caused by the sun’s rays at bay, we put together a quick guide on sunscreen and SPF. Read on to learn how you can bask in all the sun’s glory worry-free this season!

What Does SPF Stand For?

SPF (for those who have always wondered) stands for sun protection factor. This is a simple measurement that will tell you just how long your lovely skin will be protected by the sunscreen you’re using. The sun projects invisible ultraviolet (UV) rays, and while these rays can contribute to gloriously warm days, they can also do some serious damage to the external as well as internal systems of skin.

Let’s Break Down Those Major UV Ray Types

There are two main types of ultraviolet rays -- UVA and UVB. While each targets different parts of the skin, they are both responsible for sun-related burns.

The first type of UV rays, UVA, are the rays that go deep into the skin and are the major cause of undesirable effects from the sun (think wrinkles and dark spots). What’s more, UVA rays are more predominant than UVB rays. This means it’s important to make sure your sunscreen is covering you for not just one UV ray type, but both.

The next type -- UVB rays -- are responsible for more surface level issues, such as burns. They also play a role in the formation of topical skin cancers.

Now that you have a sense for why the sunny days ahead necessitate protection, let’s arm you with some further knowledge:

SPF Count Does Matter (But There’s A Limit)

Just when you thought that leaving the store with a sunscreen labeled SPF 75 was going to protect you more than the bottle labeled SPF 30, you may want to think again. It has been shown that there’s actually no further benefit between the two, and in fact, it can cause more burns. In fact, the FDA hasn’t uncovered enough data to show there’s any benefit to SPF above 50. The ideal range you’ll want to buy is between 30-50 SPF. Don’t buy into marketing telling you otherwise!

The “Once and Done” Approach Isn’t Ideal

Ever applied sunscreen, went to the beach, and still came home feeling like a freshly steamed lobster? (We have). This comes down to misusing sunscreen. SPF, as mentioned above, is the measurement of time you will be protected by your sunscreen (not the intensity of the rays it will protect you from).

So, if you have sunscreen with an SPF rating of 30, that equates to 30 minutes of coverage. This means you should be reapplying it every 30 minutes. For reference, if you’re at the beach for a half a day, you should probably use about half the bottle you brought with you!

Sunscreen Should Be Worn Everyday

No exceptions here; wear sunscreen every day. While we’re focusing on the beauty of sunny days, we should mention UV rays are out all year round. This means even on cloudy or rainy days you should be protecting your skin with sunscreen. The main reason, you wonder? Well, the sun ages you (yikes!). In one study of women, it was found that there was a correlation between facial sun damage and wrinkles. So, be smart and SPF up!

There Are Two Sunscreen Ingredient Types -- Chemical and Physical: Know The Difference

One fact you may be surprised to learn: there are two completely different sunscreen ingredients available to you, and they do very different things to protect your skin. Let’s go over them now.

Physical Ingredients: these include zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These ingredients work to block and scatter the sun’s rays before they ever reach your skin.

Chemical Ingredients: these include things like avobenzone and octisalate. These ingredients absorb UV rays before they can be absorbed by the skin (and, thus, damaged by them).

Broad-Spectrum Is The Best To Buy

All this talk of rays and ingredients may have you wondering which sunscreen is the best to buy. This brings us to the last fact for this post, which regards so-called “broad-spectrum sunscreen”. Broad-spectrum is the best option for full protection from the ol’ sun because it protects you from both UVA and UVB rays. This way, you’re not only protecting yourself skin deep, but at the surface level as well. Woo for no wrinkles or burns!

This concludes our guide to SPF and sunscreen. We hope that you’re staying safe in general, but when the sun shines, and you take a step outside for a minute to savor it, please remember to protect yourself from it. To up your glow game even more, shop our skin-loving products here.



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