A ccording to a research study at Northwestern University Feinerg School of Medicine, only 43% of people know the definition of SPF. SPF stands for “Sun-Protection-Factor’. “People think that SPF equals everything,” says Dr. Roopal Kindu a dermatologist at Northwestern. It does count for a lot, the “sun-protection-factor” measures a sunscreen’s ability to filter UVB rays which are related to sunburn and skin cancer. SPF however only measures UVB rays which don’t tell you anything about protection from UVA rays. Perhaps the most misunderstood factor in sunscreen is UVA. UVA is around every day and can even penetrate through window glass! UVA rays like UVB is also related to an increased risk of skin cancer, unlike UVB it is not filtered by the ozone at all. UVA doesn’t cause sunburn, but it can lead to skin darkening and aging, because it penetrates deeper into the skin it has more influence on collagen. When shopping for a sunscreen it is important to look for a bottle that says “broad spectrum” because there is no other metric on the bottle for UVA coverage. Zinc Oxide is a natural sunscreen alternative that physically instead of chemically blocks rays, and is gaining popularity as consumers seek more natural beauty products. Zinc oxide protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Dr. Andrew Weil for Origin’s makes a great natural sunscreen “Mega Defense SPF 45” formulated with Opuntia Ficus-Indica a desert cactus that helps shield against harmful UVA/UVB rays. It is one of the first 100% non-chemical sunscreens introduced to the market.
SPF numbers are another confusing factor when it comes to picking out the right sunscreen. Contrary to popular belief SPF 15 is not half as effective as an SPF 30. An SPF of 30 means that technically you could be out in the sun 30 times longer before you get sunburned than you would be able to if you went out without any protection. SPF 30 filters approximately 97% of UVB rays and SPF 50 filters about 98% of UVB rays. Meaning despite the jump in SPF number the UVB filtering improvement is only a 1% improvement. Sunscreen and proper care is important when having fun in the sun, recent stats show one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. Knowing what to look for and when to apply will help your skin stay happy and healthy! For sunscreen to work as advertised, you should use about a shot glass worth for exposed areas.
Typical adults should look got a water resistant, broad spectrum SPF 30 or higher sunscreen, and reap- ply every two hours for the best protection. In addition to sunscreen use dermatologist also recommend taking these skin saving tips: