WHAT SPF SHOULD I WEAR?

Dr. Jim Martin 05/04/2016

golfer-applying-sunscreen.pngWhen it comes to sunscreen, it seems like most people aren't sure about what the best sun protection factor (SPF) is. SPF is the sunscreen's ability to block the sun's harsh ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. These nasty rays burn the skin and heighten the odds of skin cancer. Think of the rating as the amount of time it would require for the skin to burn without the protection of sunscreen. Unfortunately, it is represented in a number format that the average person does not find to be intuitive in the slightest.

SPF Numbers

One would think that a sunscreen with a SPF of 15 is half as good as a sunscreen with a SPF of 30. Yet this is not how SPF numbers work. Sunscreen with a SPF of 15 will block around 94 percent of the sun's UVB light. A lotion with a SPF of 30 will safeguard against 97 percent of UVB light. A product with an SPF of 45 blocks all but two percent of the sun's UVB rays. Yet none of these sun protection products offers full, 100 percent protection.

Frequency Of Use

Regardless of which type of sunscreen you select, apply it to your skin half an hour before heading outside. Reapply it every couple of hours or after sweating or swimming. Ideally, you will use a water-resistant sunscreen. Keep in mind that even the lotions with the highest SPFs will only protect against the sun's harmful rays for a few hours at most.

Sunscreens With SPFs Toward 100 Aren't Always Necessary

There is not an enormous difference between sunscreens with medium and high SPFs. Higher SPF lotions do not protect the skin significantly better against skin damage and skin cancer. There are some sunscreens with SPF ratings of 100 and beyond, yet such a level is not necessary. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, a sunscreen with a lotion of SPF 30 will suffice unless you are participating in extensive outdoor activities. Those who are active outdoors should use a sunscreen with an SPF of 50+. Don't overcompensate by using a lotion with an uber-high SPF rating if you are simply walking outdoors for half an hour or so. The FDA plans to reduce the SPF scale to a maximum of 50+.

Wearing sunscreen with a high SPF is only part of protecting yourself from the sun's wrath. You have to protect your eyes as well. The sun's UV rays can impact your sight and damage your eyes. Extensive sun exposure can possibly cause blindness. Broome Optical is here to help you protect your eyes from possible sun damage.  Come in to view our wide sunglasses selection today.

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