SPF 50 beats SPF 30 in the sun protection stakes, right? Fifty is higher than 30 – it’s simple maths.
But that’s not strictly the case. And for sensitive redheads, this information is particularly crucial.
The idea is that Sun Protection Factor (SPF) refers to the proportion of time it takes for your skin to burn. For example, if without sunscreen your skin would burn within 10 minutes, using SPF 30 should in theory mean that sunburn wouldn’t occur for 30 x 10 minutes, which equals 5 hours.
But, we all (should) know that this sum does not add up how it logically should.
In reality, SPF 30 provides sun protection for UVB rays (the ones that cause sunburn) of 97%. SPF 50 goes up to 98% and SPF 100 is 99%, so you can see that the SPF numbers don’t correlate with the amount of UVB protection.
Luckily, here are some reminders for keeping your skin as safe as possible from the sun…
It’s not just UVB rays that cause sun damage. You also need to protect yourself again UVA rays, which are responsible for skin cancer (though it’s true that both UVB and UVA contribute to this overall). Always make sure your SPF product protects against both.
The minuscule increase in protection between SPF 30 and higher factors is balanced out with a soaring increase in additional chemicals used in products. For sensitive redheads with pale skin, this is not recommended.
Reapplication of sun protection is the ultimate key to staying safe in the sun. No matter how high your SPF, around 1-2 hours is the maximum recommended length of time you should spend in the sun before you reapply sunscreen or seek relief and refuge under a shady tree. This is the most vital part of your sun protection routine.
So, if anyone has ever mocked you for your reapplication of SPF on the beach, be safe in the knowledge that you’re taking the best step to keeping sunburn at bay.
All things considered, SPF 30 is thought to be the golden number for sun protection (and remember it should protect against both UVA and UVB rays). If you’re into your ingredients, zinc oxide is widely viewed as the ideal ‘sun blocking’ ingredient to look for when buying sunscreen. Always remember to reapply – don’t wait until you start burning, because it’ll be too late!