Sunscreen need-to-know: Does SPF matter?

When most people are young, they don’t worry about the sun. After all, while sunburn can be painful, it’s a temporary ailment—one that a little aloe vera and time can fix. 


But what if sun damage was more than that? The truth is that it is more serious than many people realize. Because of that, it’s important to take steps to protect yourself from the sun. 


While you might not be able to go back in time and undo sun damage, making a point to wear sunscreen every day can help you moving forward. It doesn’t matter whether you go outside or stay indoors, whether the sun is shining or clouds cover the sky—sunscreen is a must. To help hammer that point home, today we’re going to look at some facts about SPF and sun damage. 

SPF: A breakdown

As you hopefully know, sunscreen is a lotion (or spray) that protects your body against the sun’s UV rays. If left unchecked, prolonged sun exposure can lead to sunburn in the short term, as well as premature aging and skin cancer in the long term. 


The sun protection factor, or SPF, is the number that tells you the fraction of UV rays that can reach your skin after applying sunscreen. For example, “SPF 30” means that 1/30 of UV rays will reach your skin. 


Sunscreens come in two varieties: physical and chemical. Physical sunscreens reflect the sun’s rays away from your skin, while chemical sunscreens absorb them and convert them into heat. Both are effective, so choose whichever works best with your skin type

How important is SPF?

Checking the SPF is essential as you want to ensure that you properly protect yourself. People often think that makeup products and moisturizers containing SPF can keep them safe. And, while they’re better than nothing, they often give people a false sense of security.


Many of these products have too little SPF to be effective. On top of that, most people used less than the recommended SPF amount, especially if it’s in another product, like a moisturizer. 


Make a point to use a separate sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. While the higher the number, the better, the difference becomes small at a certain point. You won’t find a huge difference between SPF 70 and SPF 100, but you will find one between SPF 15 and SPF 50.

Other sun protection steps to take 

The best way to protect yourself against harmful UV rays is by staying out of the sun altogether. However, unless you’re a vampire, that might not sound fun, especially since being in the sun has a positive impact on your mood and mental state. 


So on top of sunscreen, what else can you do to stay safe? 


It’s always a good idea to keep track of how much time you spend in the sun. If you start feeling hot and you think you might be at your limit for the day, don’t be afraid to retreat indoors or head into the shade. Listen to your body.


Using clothing can also be an effective way to protect yourself. If you plan on being outside for a while, sunglasses, a hat, and long sleeves can all help complement your sunscreen. 

Stay safe out there 

The sun may be the source of life, but all good things in moderation. Too much sun exposure can lead to sunburn, premature aging, and skin cancer.

Sunscreen is one of the best ways to protect yourself. Choose a higher SPF to be safe, and be generous when applying it to ensure that you have fun in the sun without suffering the consequences.

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