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SPF 101: What Does SPF Stand For? Sun Protection, Explained

Do I Need to Wear Sunscreen?

When it comes to caring for our skin, we all know proper sun protection is key. But let’s be real—the world of sunscreen can be a bit of a puzzle. No worries, we've got you covered! In this article, we’re breaking down the basics of sun protection so that you’ll know how to stay safe in the sun 365 days a year. Trust us, your skin will thank you for it!

What is SPF & How Does It Work?

SPF stands for sun protection factor, which is a measurement of how long it takes for skin to redden when using a sunscreen compared to how long it takes without it. For example, SPF 30 means it would take 30 times longer for your skin to burn than if you weren’t wearing sunscreen at all.

It’s important to note that SPF only defends against UVB rays—the culprits behind sunburn and, in the worst-case scenario, skin cancer. To truly get the best sun protection, you need a broad-spectrum sunscreen that also protects against UVA rays, which are responsible for long-term sun damage on face like wrinkles and loss of elasticity.

Just remember: SPF is not a measure of how long you can stay in the sun. It simply indicates the level of protection against UVB rays. Other factors, such as your skin type, the intensity of the sun, and the amount of sunscreen applied, also play a role in determining how long you can safely stay in the sun.

Is a Higher SPF Better?

Dermatologists get this question a lot. We love the answer given by Dr. Camille Howard, a board-certified dermatologist and IT Cosmetics advisory board member. “I always tell my patients: buy the SPF you will actually use!" She notes a 2014 study that suggests many of us don’t apply enough sunscreen, which means SPF is reduced. So, if making the choice between SPF 30 vs 50, Dr. Howard says, “Choose the highest SPF [sunscreen] you can, and remember that we should use about 2-3 tablespoons of sunscreen to cover an adult body.” As for how much sunscreen is enough to use on your face? Dr. Howard says it should be enough to cover your middle and index fingers.

While higher SPF numbers offer increased protection, it's essential to understand that no sunscreen can provide 100% protection. Additionally, the effectiveness of sunscreen diminishes over time, so it's crucial to reapply it every two hours, or more frequently if swimming or sweating.

Full disclosure: Dr. Howard collaborated with IT Cosmetics on Hello Sunshine Invisible Sunscreen for Face SPF 50. In addition to a high level of SPF, this dermatologist-recommended sunscreen offers some other perks that make it easier than ever to wear SPF daily: an invisible finish, lightweight, hydrating feel and makeup compatibility just to name a few.

What are the benefits of broad-spectrum sunscreen?

Broad-spectrum sunscreen protects against both UVA and UVB rays. And as we mentioned earlier, you need protection against both to best shield your skin from premature aging (think UVA) and burning (think UVB).

UVA rays make up about 95% of the UV radiation from the sun that hits the Earth. They’re the culprits behind the signs of aging skin that show up on your face, like wrinkles and age spots. But with a good broad-spectrum sunscreen, you’re arming your skin with the defense it needs to stay looking young and healthy.

UVB rays cause sunburns, from mild to ouch-that-hurts! In more serious cases, exposure to UVB rays can also lead to skin cancer. By making a broad-spectrum sunscreen a part of your daily routine, you’re doing your part to keep UVB rays at bay and your skin safe from the burn. IT Cosmetics is proud to offer a range of products that provide broad-spectrum sun protection for your face.

Besides wearing sunscreen, how else can you prevent sun damage?

We’re so glad you asked! In addition to applying sunscreen, there are several other ways to protect yourself from the sun's harmful rays:

• Seeking shade when outdoors is a great way to reduce your exposure to UV radiation.
• When possible, stay indoors during peak sun hours, which are typically between 10 am to 4 pm.
• Wearing sunglasses is another important way to protect your eyes from UV radiation. Look for sunglasses that offer 100% UVA and UVB protection.
• A hat can also help protect your scalp and face from the sun. Choose a hat with a wide brim that covers your face, ears, and neck.

Now that you know the basics of sun protection, make sure to avoid these common sunscreen mistakes!

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