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Sunblock: What the different SPF coverages really mean

Posted by Dr. Donna Restivo on Aug 1, 2019 9:35:48 AM

In Health Tips, skin care

We are officially in the midst of the summer months and for a lot of us, the majority of our days are spent out in the sun. While it’s nice to get a daily dose of vitamin D and feel the warmth of the sunlight hit our face when we step outdoors, it’s crucial that we make lathering up in sunblock a part of our daily routine. For some of us, a trip to the drug store to pick out sunblock can be somewhat of a challenging task, simply because there are so many options lining the shelves this time of year. On a mission to educate you on the many sunscreens on the market, we’ve decided to arm you with a few tips that will help guide you to the right brand and the right coverage.

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Knowing the difference between UVA and UVB

It’s easier said than done, we can assure you that once you know what to look for on the back of a bottle, you will save a lot of time and confusion. First things first…it’s important to understand the meaning behind SPF. Also known as the Sun Protection Factor, SPF indicates the amount of time that it typically takes you to get a sunburn if you are not wearing sunscreen. With that said, SPF refers to the particular sunscreen’s ability to block ultraviolet B (UVB), rays, which are the harmful rays that cause sunburns. While UVA rays are linked to sun damage, not all sunscreens block UVA rays. Both UVA and UVB rays can contribute to your risk of developing skin cancer.  It’s important to be on the lookout for “broad spectrum,” as this category of sunscreen will block both UVA and UVB rays, offering you ultimate protection.

The number that follows SPF

It’s important to keep in mind that a higher SPF doesn’t necessarily mean that you get double the protection. Instead, an SPF 30 can be used in most cases, however; you want to reapply it every two to three hours. According to a recent consumer report, the following four sunscreens were determined as being the most effective in blocking UVA rays…

  • La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Melt-in Sunscreen Milk
  • Equate Sport Lotion SPF 50
  • Trader Joe's Spray SPF 50+
  • Banana Boat Continuous SPF 50+ Spray 6 Ounce Sun Comfort
Up & Up Kids Sunscreen Stick SPF 55

Chemical or mineral. Because there are so many known allergies these days, it’s important to decipher between sunscreens that have chemicals or minerals in them and choose according to your preference or any specific allergies that you may have.

 

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