How To Choose The Right SPF

By Stef Crowley-Clough

SPF - we see the word all the time, but what does it actually mean?

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. It refers to how long the sunscreen will protect you before you start to burn (sunburn = sun damage).

Because some UV radiation still gets through the sunscreen and into your skin, the SPF number refers to roughly how long it will take for a person's skin to turn red. Sunscreen with an SPF of 15 will prevent your skin from getting red for approximately 15 times longer than usual (so if you start to burn in 10 minutes, sunscreen with SPF 15 will prevent burning for about 150 minutes).

What does SPF 50 mean?

A sunscreen with an SPF of 15 protects against about 93% of UVB rays, one with an SPF of 30 protects against 97% of rays, and a sunscreen with an SPF 50 blocks 98% of UVB rays, according to the Mayo Clinic. Or, another way of looking at it is:

  • SPF 15 (93% protection) allows 7 out of 100 photons through
  • SPF 50 (98% protection) allows 2 out of 100 photons through

So, while it may not seem that you're increasing your level of protection by a significant amount, an SPF 50 sunscreen will block three times the radiation than an SPF 15 sunscreen would let through to your skin.

There is no sunscreen that can block 100% of UV rays, which is why it is important not to spend prolonged periods of time in the sun, even while wearing sunscreen.

The Skin & Cancer Foundation recommends using a sunscreen with an SPF of 50+.

You mentioned UVB, but what about UVA?

Both UVA and UVB are forms of ultraviolet light that penetrate the earth's atmosphere. UVA’s penetrate deep into the skin’s dermis, the skin's thickest layer. Please note, they're around all day, all year long and can even penetrate glass. Unprotected UVA exposure can lead to premature ageing, wrinkling of the skin and cancer. UVB is what generates a "burn" or redness to the skin. Both can contribute to skin cancers. One in three Australians will be diagnosed with some form of skin cancer, which is why it is really important to choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects your skin from both. 

UVA = ageing 
UVA = burn
Broad Spectrum = protection against both UVA & UVB

 

But what about the chemicals in sunscreen?

There is a misconception about chemicals in sunscreen. There is no such thing as a “chemical-free” sunscreen, as everything is made of a chemical of some sort.

There are two types of filters used in sunscreen - physical (mineral) and active (chemical). Zinc oxide and titanium oxide are often found in physical sunscreens and are created in a lab using a chemical process 

So, no our sunscreens are not “natural”.

While our formulations are unique and have allowed us to remove many unnecessary ingredients commonly used in sunscreen, it is important to note that all sunscreens, including mineral, must contain some form of chemical, whether it is organic or inorganic (zinc oxide for example) to block UV rays. For this reason, we do not claim to be a 'natural sunscreen' as this is often misinterpreted.

And organic sunscreens?

All sunscreens are organic as they are made up of organic compounds. Organic is a confusing and misrepresented term when it comes to sunscreen.

All of our sunscreens are broad spectrum SPF 50+, free from PABAs, parabens, oxybenzone and octinoxate.  Yes, that means we protect against both UVA + UVB rays!

If you have any questions, please email us at: info@wearefeelgoodinc.com.au

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