What SPF Do I Need for Sun Protection?

You are probably aware that protecting your skin from the sun is critically important. Not only does it help protect your from sunburn and serious long-term skin conditions, but it is also pivotal toward keeping the ravaging effects of age at bay. Photoaging (the technical term for the sun’s effect on our skin) is the top cause of deterioration and wear. If you spend too much time in the sun with too little production, you are likely to see dry skin, wrinkles and sagging much earlier. So, lathering up with SPF support, either through sunscreen or one of its alternatives, is crucial. But you may ask, what SPF do I need? What number is too low? What is the sweet spot for getting a tan while avoiding harmful effects?

Let’s take a deeper look.

What Does SPF Mean?

It stands for Sun Protection Factor, and refers to the extent to which a product will shield you from ultraviolet radiation. There is a calculation that arrives at that number and here’s how it works. Everyone’s skin is unique, and takes a different amount of time to burn. For someone with very fair skin, it might take only 10 minutes. For an individual with darker skin, it might take longer. But you can calculate the SPF number against your duration until burning to determine the extent. If you burn in 10 minutes, and use an SPF 10, your coverage lasts 100 minutes (10 x 10).

This isn’t necessarily the best or most accurate way to look at it though. Because differing SPF numbers also mean different percentages of total UV radiation blocked. For instance, an SPF 15 sunscreen will block half as many rays as an SPF 15. I know what you might be saying: that’s cool and all, but what SPF do I need, personally? How can I figure out the right level to ensure I am safe?

What SPF Do I Need for Safety?

Basically, your skin complexion dictates this? When you’re asking yourself, what SPF do I need, consider the fairness of your skin. If you have pale light skin and tend to burn very quickly, you will always want to lather up with SPF 30 or higher. Preferably 50-plus if the sun is really beating down. If you have somewhat fair skin that tends to burn somewhat but you can still get a tan, a step down is OK. In those cases, somewhere in the range of 15 to 30 should be fine. If you have medium or dark skin that rarely burns, you should be alright with something under 15.

The most important thing to remember, one way or another, is to always apply sunscreen. The dangers of failing to do so are considerable. It is advisable to use these products even on cloudy days where you don’t think the sun is a threat. Regular SPF application can vastly delay the onset of aging signs, and reduce their severity. If you want to avoid wrinkles and age spots down the line, then take the right preventative steps today. There’s no better anti-aging method than simple sun protection.

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