We love the sun, but the sun doesn’t love us back. It emits harmful UV radiation which is damaging to our skin. Fortunately, with the right products we can enjoy the sun AND keep our skin safe. Sunscreens are one of the most popular options, which are all rated with an SPF value. But what is the SPF meaning?
SPF stands for “sun protection factor”. It’s the factor in which that specific sunscreen is protecting your skin from harmful UV rays. So the higher the SPF value, the more protected you are. If you divide 1 by the SPF value it will tell you the percent of UV rays your skin is still exposed to. For example, a SPF 30 sunscreen will allow 1/30th of the UV rays to pass through, or exposure to about 3.3% of the UV rays. That means it’s blocking 96.7% of the harmful rays. And a SPF 50 will allow 1/50th or about 2% of the UV rays, blocking approximately 98% of the harmful rays. The same holds true for any SPF value.
For any SPF value, it’s assuming that you applied it correctly and are applying it often. Sunscreens generally last up to 2 hours before they need reapplication. And this time frame is shortened even further if you are sweating or swimming. So even if you apply a SPF 50 sunscreen in the morning, you’ll need to reapply at least every two hours to continue receiving that level of protection throughout the day.
While it’s important to understand the SPF meaning, it’s more important to understand what’s considered an acceptable amount of exposure. We all know SPF 50 provides more protection than SPF 30. And SPF 30 provides more protection than SPF 15, but where do we draw the line? For that, I lean on dermatologists and other skin care professionals’ recommendations
The SPF meaning is one thing, understanding it is another. If you ever have any questions or concerns about your skin care routine, we would always recommend you first speak with your dermatologist. Every dermatologist has his/her own opinion and everyone’s situation is a little different. However, generally speaking most dermatologists recommend using a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, if not more.
For those at high risk for skin cancer and those previously diagnosed, that number is often higher. In general, the more protection you can get the better off you’ll be.
How Does SPF Differ From UPF?
The SPF meaning and UPF meaning are nearly identical. SPF is simply the rating used for sunscreens, whereas UPF is the rating used for fabrics. The rating itself represents the exact same thing – the factor to which it protects your skin from UV rays. However, there are some slight differences in value. UPF products never need reapplication and are always broad spectrum, but can cost a bit more up front. Still, UPF clothing is a critical part of preventing skin cancer.
Here at Rayward Apparel, all of our products are certified to have a protection factor of UPF 30 or greater. Your clothing should do more than just look and feel good, it should also protect. In addition to certifying all of our products at UPF rated, we are committed to a greater cause. In fact, Rayward Apparel donates to organizations dedicated to the research and treatment of skin cancer.