What is SPF?

The combination of Melanoma Month and summer fast approaching means one thing: it’s time to talk about SPF! Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is an abbreviation that gets thrown around all the time, but most people really don’t understand what it means. Whether you’re interested in melanoma or not, everyone needs to know what that number on their sunscreen means.

At its core, SPF on your sunscreen label refers to the product’s ability to screen, or block out harmful rays from the sun. For example, if you use a sunscreen with SPF 30, that means you can be in the sun 30 times longer than you can without sunscreen before you start burning. This doesn’t mean that an increase in SPF protection is proportional to a higher number – while an SPF of 2 will absorb 50% of ultraviolet radiation, an SPF of 15 absorbs 93% and an SPF of 34 absorbs 97%.

Most dermatologists will tell you that sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher do a great job of protecting against UVB, and personally I cannot reiterate the importance of sunscreen enough. That’s why my formulation of Likewise Moisturizing Defense has broad spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen with an SPF of 50+. Always use a sunscreen that protects against UVA (Ultraviolet A) rays – those rays are the ones that penetrate deeper into your skin and are the causes of premature aging and wrinkles – and make surey ou reapply it at least every two hours. Read our FAQs for more information!

Now, when it comes to skin cancer, here’s a fact for you: The US Environmental Protection Agency estimates t the sun causes 90% of all non-melanoma skin cancers, and other research links it to 65% of all melanomas. Those are no small figures. Chronic sun exposure without the appropriate protection immediately puts you at risk, so don’t take sunscreen lightly and be fiercely protective of your skin.

Pass the knowledge on, and keep up with us as we continue to bring melanoma facts to the surface this month!

Sources: American Melanoma Foundation, The Skin Cancer Foundation

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