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The Higher The Spf The Better, Right?

By Expert Author: Dave Morrill

Each year when the warm weather comes around, a whole new collection of ads for sunscreens hit the airwaves as stores are restocked with new, improved and eye-catching displays with all of the newest products. Each year it also seems as if the SPF numbers get larger and promise better protection for longer periods of time. Is a high number really guaranteeing a better, more protective sunscreen? What are the best SPF sunscreen lotions to use?

SPF stands for sun protection factor. It is an indication of the length of time a product offers protection against sunburn. These numbers are determined by indoor experiments which expose human subjects to a light source that mimics mid-day sunshine. The SPF number indicates how long a subject can be exposed to light without his/her skin turning red or “burning” from the exposure.

Suppose the average subject can go for 15 minutes before his skin begins to redden. With an SPF sunscreen of 15 applied, he multiplies his “safe” exposure time to 10 times 15 minute or 150 minutes. The sunscreen extends the length of time the subject can be exposed without experiencing a burn.

However, sunburns are not the only damage the sun can do. Most sunscreens protect against UVB rays, which cause sunburn, and this is what SPF measures. UVA rays penetrate the skin more deeply and are responsible for aging and skin cancer in the deeper layers of the skin. You need a broad spectrum sunscreen to protect against both kinds of radiation.

The FDA passed new regulations regarding SPF ratings that went into effect in June of 2012. The compliance deadline was set for December of the same year to prevent shortages of sunscreen on store shelves. These regulations establish a standard test to determine which products can carry the “broad spectrum” label.

Products carrying SPF numbers over 50 (70, 80, etc.) are now required to say 50+ instead. The FDA states that it has insufficient data demonstrating that SPFs higher than 50 provided any more protection than one labeled SPF 50. That large number on your sunscreen bottle may not have the meaning you thought it did.

The effectiveness of a sunscreen isn’t measured solely by its SPF number. You might want to consider judging it by what it blocks rather than the length of time it prevents a burn. Physical blocks like Zinc Oxide Sunscreens protect from both UVA and UVB rays so you get burn protection as well as protection from premature aging and skin cancer.

The only way sunscreen can be effective is if you are wearing it! Choose the best SPF sunscreen lotions for what you are doing outdoors and be sure to apply a thick layer on all exposed skin for the best protection.

Article Source: Zinc Oxide Sunscreen

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