SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor.
The number next to it represents how much protection it provides.
For example, SPF 30 gives you 30 times the amount of protection compared to none.
(Wendy Haaland/Family Nurse Practitioner, Sanford Health) “Basically when we’re talking about SPF we’re talking about how much longer you can be out in the sun as compared to if you weren’t wearing any type of sun protection at all.”
Haaland said ‘broad spectrum’ is the label to look for.
It protects against both kinds of rays that come off the sun, UVA and UVB, which are linked to skin cancers and premature aging like wrinkles or discoloration.
But depending on how long and what you’re doing in the sun, a higher number can only help so much.
(Haaland) “Essentially, you have more time in the sun when you’re protected with a higher SPF.”
(Farr) “So if I were to use 30 instead of 15, would I have to reapply less times?”
(Haaland) “That’s not necessarily true because the reason that sunscreen needs to be reapplied is because it does tend to degrade quickly out in the sun and it especially needs to be reapplied after any activity that has water involved.”
It’s recommended to reapply after water activities, or anything that makes you sweat while in the sun.
If you’re not in the water, every two hours is best.
Haaland also advises to use two tablespoons, or one ounce, of sunscreen to protect the average body size.
(Haaland) “I think the most important thing with all of the sunscreens no matter what formulation you use is that you use enough of it initially when you apply it.”