#6. SPF — This is the big Kahuna of sunscreen terms. Seeing “SPF” on a package gives you confidence in a product- maybe too much confidence.
Here’s how it works: SPF stands for “sun protection factor”. An SPF 15 means that you can stay in the sun 15X longer without burning. If you start burning after 10 minutes of sun exposure, then a 15 SPF means you can spend 10 x 15 =150 minutes in the sun without burning. But this sounds better than it is.
Many factors affect how much sun protection you actually have in real time– how much you use, if you’re near water or sands which reflects light, as well as heat, humidity and time of year. To me the most interesting things I learned is an SPF 30 is not twice as good a 15 SPF. Who knew?
I think that the best way to view an SPF is as proof that this product has actually been tested and has shown to offer an acceptable level of sun protection. Most doctors recommend an SPF 30 as a minimum for daily facial and body use. If you are spending at least an hour outside in the sun, this rises to an 40-50 SPF. The jusy is still out on how well higher ( 60-100 SPF) deliver.
Finally keep in mind that sunscreens are not cumulative. For example, if you use a moisturizer with a 15 SPF and a 15 SPF foundation,your acting SPF is still 15, not 30. Your total SPF is only as high as your highest SPF. For more information on sunscreens, click on 15 Minute Beauty Fanatic on my blogroll. This beauty blog has currently is posting a great series on sunscreens including reviews of specific suncare products.
Let the summer games begin.