Did you know that sunscreen is sold as a drug and not as a cosmetic product? The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) actually considers sunscreen as a drug and controls its sales and labeling.
They are considered drugs because they protect against skin cancer. Hence by law, any sun protection product needs to mention the SPF (sun protection factor) number. The SPF number designates the level of protection from UVB rays.
Also, it is mandatory for sunscreen companies to mention whether they have or not passed the broad-spectrum test against the sun’s ultraviolet (UVA) radiation.
Sounds interesting; continue reading to understand how SPF number affects your skin and choose the right sunscreen for your skincare.
What Is SPF?
Sun protection factor or SPF is a figure that reflects the percentage of protection it offers against the potentially harmful UVB rays. That implies, a product having a higher SPF number will provide more excellent protection.
According to the FDA, using sunscreen with an SPF of 15 and taking other safety measures like wearing sunglasses, hats, and avoiding the midday sun can protect individuals from skin cancer disease.
Remember that no sun protection product with less than SPF 15 can claim that they offer a broad spectrum of protection. Also, the manufacturer or the brand must attach a Warning Sign on the label to notify customers:
”This product has been shown only to help prevent sunburn, not skin cancer or early skin aging.”
Following are SPF numbers and their respective meaning on sunscreen.
- SPF 15 means it is capable of blocking 93 % of all UVB rays.
- SPF 30 provides 97 % protection.
- SPF 50 is capable of providing 98 % of protection from all UVB rays.
How To Choose the Right Sunscreen for you
While you’re shopping for sunscreen online or at a local convenience store, you should always read through the product description/print to understand whether the sunscreen offers the level of UVA protection you require or not. FDA always recommends purchasing sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or more.
The best way to protect yourself against harmful UVB rays is by applying the sunscreen 15 minutes before you go out and reapply every 2 hours on a sunny day. If you are going near the beachside or water area, then apply sunscreen every 40 minutes.
Damage Based On The Skin Types
Skin types also play a significant role in determining the risk of skin damage due to UV rays. For instance, if you have extremely fair skin or fair skin, there is a greater risk of sun damage, considering your melanin level is low.
But, if you have a darker skin tone, then the possibility of skin damage is to a lesser extent since you have more melanin in your body.
Measures Other Than Sunscreen
There are several safety measures that you can take other than sunscreen to protect yourself from harmful rays while going out, such as,
- Protective clothing like wearing long sleeves and thick clothes.
- Wearing broad-brimmed hats and sunglasses, and
- Avoiding the mid-day sun.
From all the benefits of sunscreen, the only disadvantage of SPF is that it will reduce your body’s vitamin D levels. Your body produces 90 to 95 % of vitamin D when it is in direct contact with UVB light, and the remaining 10% depends on your daily diet. Thus, a small amount of sun exposure seems to be a better option since you need vitamin D.
Feel free to call us if you have any questions regarding sun protection or require more skincare tips.