Sun Protection Factor: What SPF Should I Use & When to Wear Sunscreen

We all want to spend as many hours out in the sun as possible during the hot summer months, especially if you live here in Florida. While afternoons and mornings spent by the pool or at the beach can be fun, we also have to make sure we are properly protected when we're in the sun. What is SPF and what SPF should you use? When should you wear sunscreen? How much sunscreen should you use? What type of sunblock is best?

Reasons to Wear Sunscreen

You might be wondering, "Why do I need to use sunscreen?" There are a lot of popular misconceptions out there about when to wear sunscreen, what kind you should use, and what SPF is best. Follow our guide to learn the truth about sunscreen and the best tips to how to use it to protect you from developing skin cancer, which is one of the best reasons to wear sunscreen.

What is SPF & Sun Protection Factor?

No matter what sunblock you buy, somewhere on the label it will probably say SPF and then some number, usually 30. What is SPF? SPF stands for "Sun Protection Factor." Basically, your sunscreen's Sun Protection Factor lets you know how long you can stay out in the sun without getting a sunburn.

SPF x the number of minutes it takes for you to get a sunburn

example: SPF 30 x 20 minutes= 600 minutes (10 hours) without burning

Sun Protection Factor is determined by the simple equation shown above. How long does it usually take for you to get a sunburn? If you have very light skin, you can get a sunburn in as little as 20 minutes. If you use the right amount of SPF 30 sunblock, this equation suggest that you can stay in the sun up to 10 hours without getting a sunburn. While that might be true in some cases, it is still a good idea to reapply more sunscreen every couple of hours when you're spending a long day in the sun. The sun can break down your sunblock very quickly, so it's better to be safe than sorry.

What SPF Sunscreen Should I Use (High? Low?)

When looking at the Sun Protection Factor (SPF) equation above, you may be wondering what SPF sunscreen you should use. This is a tricky question that sparks a lot of debate and controversy in the sunscreen and healthcare community. It is popular belief that the lighter skin you have, the higher SPF you should use to protect your skin from UV rays and sun damage. Unfortunately, the higher SPF sunscreen you use, the more exposed you are to potentially harmful oxybenzone, a chemical used in most sunscreens. Health researchers have found that sunscreens with a sun protection factor over 50 don't offer much more UV protection and are generally more expensive. According to a study conducted by CNN, your best bet is to use a sunscreen with an SPF between 15 and 50.

What Type of Sunscreen Should I Use?

Without a doubt, the best kind of sunblock is organic biodegradable sunscreen. Despite growing concerns, the FDA and many mainstream healthcare experts in the United States have still not officially recognized the dangers of oxybenzone, but we still feel it is better to be safe than sorry when it comes to this potentially harmful chemical. Organic sunscreen contains no oxybenzone, retinyl palminate, paraben, petrolatum, or artificial ingredients and is also waterproof. Instead of using chemicals like oxybenzone or benzophenone to increase your sun protection factor, MoreNature organic sunscreen uses natural minerals like zinc oxide to protect your skin from harmful ultraviolet rays.

When to Use Sunscreen: When It's Sunny, When it's Cloudy, In the Water, and in the Car

Sunscreen in cloudy weather and in the water Another popular misconception about sunblock is when you need to use it. Some people think, "Hey, it's overcast and cloudy today, so I'll be fine without sunscreen." Worse than that, some people think that swimming and being in the water will protect them from a sunburn, forgetting that water is transparent and most of the time their heads and arms are not underwater. Make you sure wear an organic waterproof sunscreen when you spend a day at the pool or beach, even when it's cloudy.

Wear Sunscreen in the Car Another time that people forget they need to use sunscreen is in the car. If you have a long commute to work each day, you may not realize that your left arm will spend a lot of time in full exposure to the sun each day. Health researchers have linked the development of skin cancer and melanoma in the left arm to drivers with long commutes. Make sure you use sunscreen before taking a long road trip this summer!

How Much Sunblock Should I Wear?

One of the last questions we want to address is how much sunscreen you should use when you're in the sun. Health experts recommend that you use about 2 ounces of sunblock (about a shot glass full) when you're going to be out in the sun all day. That might sound like a lot of sunscreen to use, but you'll be surprised how much sunscreen you use when you rub it in to your faces, arms, legs, and back.

Remember to Wear Sunscreen!

Now you know what Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is, What SPF sunscreen you should use, what type of sunblock is best (organic always), when to use sunscreen (always), and how much you should use. When it comes to sunscreen, it might be best to remember the lyrics to "Everybody's Free to Wear Sunscreen," that old Baz Luhrmann graduation song: "If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it."

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