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How To Choose The Right SPF For Your Skin

How To Choose The Right SPF For Your Skin

Passed down from mothers and grandmothers the world over, the reminder to “put on sunscreen!” before you head outside is an accepted and valued part of our collective skincare canon. And, for good reason! Wearing sunscreen regularly has been proven to reduce the instances of many skin cancers, protect the longevity of your skin, and reduce the impact of sun damage on the aging process.

What Does SPF Mean?

SPF, or sun protection factor, is a well-known standard for sun protection. But, do you actually know what it means? Many people assume it signifies the strength of the sunscreen, and wearing a higher SPF will provide more comprehensive coverage and protection from sun damage. However, this is not exactly the truth.

In actuality, SPF refers to how long the sunscreen will last as a protective agent after application. The number following SPF refers to the amount of time the product will protect your skin from the sun: for instance, if your skin would ordinarily start to burn within 10 minutes, applying SPF 15 would protect it for up to 150 minutes (or roughly 10x the normal timeframe).”

Clearly, when choosing the level of SPF in your sunscreen and skin products, the most important question is “how long do I need this product to last as sun protection?” in reference to the activities you’ll be enjoying and your plans for the day. 

Why Should I Wear Sunscreen?

SPF is formulated to protect your skin from the damage caused by UVA and UVB rays, which are thought to contribute to several types of skin cancers and intensify the effects of the aging process. Consequently, anytime your skin will be exposed to the sun – whether you are working in front of a window, taking a lunchtime run or enjoying a day at the beach – sun protection is highly encouraged. SPF 30 is the minimum protection that provides the coverage and duration that most people need as a baseline. Regardless of what your plans are for the day, what the weather or the season, you should apply sunscreen daily.

What SPF Do I Need?

So, why might one person choose and SPF 30 and another choose an SPF 60? It gets down to skin type, intensity of sunlight, and duration of exposure.

Daily activities like driving, running errands, or attending meetings still put you in contact with the sun. So, even if you’re not planning to be outdoors, applying sunscreen is still an important step to prepare your skin for the day. Jan Marini Antioxidant Daily Face Protectant SPF 33 is a perfect product for activities like these, as it protects your skin from the damaging rays that might sneak in when you’re running into the office or driving on a sunny afternoon. This product is also lightweight, water-resistant, and offers broad-spectrum coverage from UVA & UVB rays.

For those looking for medium-coverage and nourishment for dry or combination skin, Elta MD UV Daily Broad-Spectrum SPF 40 is our top recommendation. This product is non-comedogenic, paraben-free and formulated to be soothing as well as protective. If you’re planning a morning run, or an afternoon working in the garden, this is a fantastic product to consider, as it will provide protection for short bursts of activity in the sun.

For outdoor adventurers or beach-goers, you will be best served with a higher-SPF sunscreen product. These will allow you to be outdoors for most of the day and know you’re well-protected against UVB rays. 

La Roche Posay Anthelios 60 Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid is an ultra-light, broad spectrum facial sunscreen that protects your skin for long periods from potential damage. Apply it in the morning, and enjoy outdoor activities for hours longer than you would without its coverage. 

COOLA Classic Body Organic Sunscreen Spray SPF 50 is the perfect choice for whole-body sun protection that is organic, sheer and fragrance-free. It’s also water-resistant, so even if you’re running in and out of the ocean all afternoon, you know you’re protected. 

With all sunscreens, no matter the SPF (and even if it’s water-resistant), it’s best to re-apply every 90 minutes and after swimming or sweating.

No matter how you are spending your day, it’s important to select the right skincare product for whatever lies ahead. And there are so many products available that cater towards the needs of your skin. Everyone deserves to have healthy and radiant skin for life. This includes protection from skin cancer, sun damage and premature aging. Choosing a sunscreen with the correct SPF is one of the most important first steps towards making that a reality! 

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About Dr. Alan J. Parks

Dr. Alan Parks is a board certified dermatologist. Dr. Parks founded his practice, Eastside Dermatology, in 1986 and has been practicing there ever since. In 2016 Dr. Parks launched DermWarehouse, an eCommerce website selling professional strength skin care products to customers across the United States.

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