What is SPF?

January 28, 2010

When considering a sunscreen to purchase, one of the most important factors to look for is the correct SPF. SPF, or Sun Protection Factor, is a laboratory measure of the effectiveness of sunscreen. The higher the SPF, the more protection against UVB a sunscreen offers.


Specifically, the SPF is the amount of UV radiation required to cause sunburn on the skin with the sunscreen on relative to going without sunscreen. For example, wearing sunscreen with SPF 50 means that your skin will not burn until it has been exposed to 50 times the amount of solar energy that would cause sunburn.

This amount of solar energy depends not only on the amount of time you spend in the sun but also the specific time of day you are exposed to the sun’s rays. This is due to the sun’s radiation passing through more of the Earth’s atmosphere, early morning and late afternoon before it gets to you. So, the protection from a particular sunscreen depends on factors like skin type, the frequency of sunscreen application, particularly outdoor activities and the amount of sunscreen that has been absorbed by the skin.

The better sunscreens are designed to protect against both UVA and UVB rays. The best protection is provided by products that contain zinc oxide, avobenzone and ecamsule. With these ingredients, most are protected against the strongest rays and have the best SPF rating.

SPF protection is not only available in lotions that are applied directly to the skin but also in specially made clothing and other tools. A UV protection umbrella offers significant UPF (Ultra Protection Factor) protection. This provides even better protection against skin cancer and melanoma. More information on different types of UV protection umbrellas can be found at http://www.UV-Blocker.com.

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