The SPF Bible: Your Guide to Sun Protection

Before you head out the door, did you apply your SPF today? Whether you’re headed to the beach, to the pool, or even to work, every day you’re exposed to UV rays. Applying SPF year-round is a preventative step against sun damage, accelerated skin aging, and skin cancer.

Here’s what you need to know.

Choosing a Sun Protection Factor (SPF)


Stroll through an aisle filled with sunscreen, and you’ll see a variety of SPF’s levels including 15, 30, 45. Each SPF type offers a different level of UVB protection. The higher the level of SPF, the more UVB protection. 

For example, SPF 15 blocks 93% of UVB radiation while SPF 30 blocks 97%. Although SPF 30 is the average recommended, if you're fairer, you may need a stronger SPF.

How SPF Works: By applying SPF 15, you could stay out in the sun 15 times longer without burning than you could if you weren't wearing sunscreen for protection.

Let’s say you’re out by the pool for 20 minutes sans SPF. Your skin starts to get red. Ouch. Looks like you have sunburn. If you had applied SPF 15 beforehand, you potentially could have stayed out in the sun not only for 20 minutes, but for 5 hours with no reddening and no damage. But there is a caveat…

Everyone has a different time frame of how long SPF 15 would work for them (e.g. someone fair vs. someone with darker skin.) And it's vital to reapply. The lower the SPF, the more you need to reapply often. Plus if you’re sweating or in water, you’ll need to be vigilant about staying on top of reapplying.

Physical vs Chemical Sunscreens

In addition to different levels of SPF, there are also physical and chemical sunscreens. Opt for the physical sunscreen (titanium dioxide and zinc), which repel UV rays. Chemical sunscreen absorbs and does nothing for UV protection, putting you at risk for anti-aging. 

Be sure to read the label before purchasing (and applying).

Application Tips

Although you may have SPF 30, unless you use the right amount and apply it correctly, studies show you may actually only be getting SPF 10 level protection.

Use the Right Amount: To ensure you’re getting the full benefit of your SPF 30, it’s recommended you need at least a one-ounce shot glass amount for your body and a nickel-size amount for your face.

How to Apply: Apply your first round of SPF at least 15-minutes before you go outside to give it time to be absorbed. When reapplying after emerging from water (or if you’re sweating), towel off first unless your SPF is specifically geared for wet skin. When there’s water on the skin’s surface, sunscreen can’t be absorbed.

Don’t Forget These Areas: Commonly missed spots include scalp, ears, nose, eyelids, top of hands, and bottom of feet. (There’s nothing worse than sunburned feet!)

Additional Ways to Protect Your Skin

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Cover Up. Wear a hat, sunglasses, and long sleeve clothing whenever possible. There’s even clothing lines with ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) built into their fabric.

Take Cover. When outdoors, chill under an umbrella, or hang out in a cabana. If you have access to an area with shade, take advantage to get out from under the sun’s rays.

Avoid Certain Times of the Day. The sun’s rays are strongest mid-day. Try to schedule your outdoor activities earlier or later in the day.

Got Sun Damage?

Unfortunately, you can’t reverse sun damage, but you can improve the condition of your skin. Schedule a consultation and we’ll help you select the facial service and skincare regime that is right for your targeted skin concerns. Give us a call at 302-656-0555, 302-378-8880.