SPF "Sun Protection Factor" and why it is so important!

Updated: Mar 28, 2020

What is sunscreen "SPF" and why do you need to use it?

Sunscreen is basically a barrier that protects the skin from absorbing ultraviolet (UV) rays. There are two kinds of UV rays that can affect the skin. UVA rays tend to age the skin. UVB rays typically cause sunburn.

Sunscreen is considered an over-the-counter drug and is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Due to FDA regulations, a sunscreen can only be called "broad spectrum" if it protects against both types of UV rays.

In addition the label will also have a number called sun protection factor (SPF). The SPF is a rating of how well the sunscreen blocks the sun. For example, a sunscreen with a 30 SPF rating blocks 97 percent of the sun's UVB rays. The higher the number, the better it works at blocking UVB rays.  However, no sunscreen blocks 100 percent of UV rays. Also, no matter how high the number, all sunscreens protect for the same amount of time. For example, an 80 SPF sunscreen doesn't let someone stay outside longer than a 15 SPF sunscreen. The 80 SPF just blocks more rays. All sunscreen needs to be reapplied at least every two hours or immediately after swimming or sweating.  What sunscreen is best? There are hundreds of brands of sunscreen on the market, but they all aren't created equal. Some have better protection than others. This summer, opt for sunscreens that offer full protection. While traditional sunscreens protect against UVA and UVB rays, choose a sunscreen that also protects against HEV (high-energy visible) light, which has been shown to induce skin cancer, premature aging and hyperpigmentation.

Also choose a sunscreen that has a high SPF rating. Use a sunscreen of at least 30 SPF, even on overcast days. You can't imagine how many people think "no sun-no sunblock" you are still getting sun rays. Sunscreen that is water resistant can also be helpful, especially when swimming or sweating but please reapply when done swimming or sweating because it doesn't stay on as the bottle says it does.  How much sunscreen is needed? Most people don't use enough sunscreen to fully protect their skin, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. In fact, most people only use 25 to 50 percent of the recommended amount of sunscreen. A liberal amount is needed to fully cover the skin. "A shot glass (1 ounce) of sunscreen is an adequate amount to be used when most of your skin is exposed while wearing a swimsuit and should be reapplied every two hours.

Many people wait to put on sunscreen when already outside. This is a no-no. Sunscreen should be applied 20 minutes before going outside to allow it to bond with the skin. Also, applying sunscreen to the lips shouldn't be forgotten. Lip balms that contain sunscreen is the best way to protect the lip area. It should be reapplied regularly, especially if the person has a habit of licking their lips.

Sunscreen should be stored in a cool, dry place. With proper storage, a bottle can last five to 10 years! Here are a few sunscreen brands we love to use! Click on the link to purchase directly through Amazon. 

Vanicream Lip Protection




Elta MD


Blue Lizard Sunscreen




Coppertone Pure & Simple 


La Roche-Posay


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