What to Know About SPF And It’s Protection
As summer kicks into high gear, we hope you’re enjoying some time outside in the warm weather. And we hope you’re taking steps to protect your skin, either with protective clothing, or, when you’re at the pool or beach for a swim, with a good sunscreen.
Most of us know about SPF, the number on sunscreen and other sun-protective products, including clothing, that tells us how strong the protection is. The higher the number, the more protection.
But many people don’t realize that SPF protects you from just one type of radiation from the sun.
So what does SPF mean? Check out the points below to give you a better idea of what it protects you from, what it doesn’t do and what you should look for to get complete protection.
The letters ‘SPF’ stand for ‘sun protection factor’, but that name is misleading. The SPF of a product tells you how much radiation the product filters out before it reaches your skin. If you use something with an SPF of 50, it means that only 1/50th of the radiation will reach your skin. The problem is that SPF only refers to filtering out UVB radiation from the sun (see below).
UVB refers to ‘ultraviolet B short-wave radiation’. UVB rays burn your skin and can cause skin cancer.
UVA refers to ‘ultraviolet A long-wave radiation’. UVA makes up 95% of the radiation you get from the sun. Its longer waves penetrate further into your skin to produce wrinkles and premature aging. The SPF rating on a product does not indicate protection from UVA radiation and that’s why its name, ‘sun protection factor’ can be dangerously misleading. You could use the highest SPF-rated sunscreen available and still have zero protection from UVA radiation.
This is the secret to getting complete protection from your sunscreen or sun-protective clothing. Only products labeled ‘broad-spectrum’ protect you from UVB and UVA radiation.
So now you can have even more fun in the sun with the right protection for your skin.