Why is SPF rating so important in sunscreen?

We all know that the sun is very harmful to our skin, particularly when you're living down under. From late November to early April, Australia is considerably closer to the sun than the rest of the world is during their summer months. This proximity paired with clear atmospheric conditions means that our exposure to UV rays is super charged.

What does SPF mean?

In short, SPF means Sun Protection Factor. On the bottle of sunscreen you will see the strength of protection numbered as follows - SPF 15, SPF 30, SPF 50 and so on. These numbers indicate the level that the sunscreen protects against sunburn. It doesn’t indicate how long you should be out in the sun, rather how long it takes for untanned skin to redden and burn more deeply. 

Testing is undertaken in a laboratory to determine the strength of the SPF by applying the cream to an untanned patch of skin such as the buttock of a human volunteer. This test area is exposed to an artificial simulation of UV light which mimics the sun's rays. Measurements are taken based on how long the skin takes to react and turn red with and without the sunscreen applied. 

A simple formula is used to produce the SPF rating eg; SPF 30. The number of seconds it takes for the skin to redden when covered by the sunscreen is divided by the number of seconds it takes without the sunscreen. Under current regulations in Australia, sunscreens must have a significantly higher sun protection factor than 50 to qualify as a 50+ rating. 

Remember, just because an SPF number is higher, it doesn’t mean that it is going to give you more protection. It is more valuable to be applying any of your sunscreens correctly rather than just slapping on SPF 50 once a day. If your sunscreen isn’t applied frequently or thickly enough then it could have an impact on the results. If you use your sunscreens as directed, SPF 15 will block 93% of UVB rays, SPF 30 will block 97% and SPF 50 will block 98%.

Benefits of including sunscreen in your skincare routine

There is no doubt in the world that sunscreen needs to be a part of your everyday skincare routine, regardless of the season. Harmful UVB and deeper penetrating UVA rays can cause long lasting damage to your skin that is sometimes impossible to rectify. Choosing to include a broad spectrum sunscreen in your daily routine will provide you with protection against a myriad of different skin complaints.  

Skin cancer

The number one most important thing that sunscreen will do for your skin is protect it from burning which will ultimately help to lessen your chances of being diagnosed with skin cancer, especially melanoma. This type of skin cancer can be extremely aggressive, even life threatening to some. You must be applying sunscreen daily to see the cumulative protection efforts over several months. 

Premature signs of ageing

Ageing is inevitable, but slowing down the process is achievable - let’s face it, no one wants to have tough old leather bag looking skin. Sunscreen is your best friend in the fight against visible signs of ageing such as wrinkles, hyper pigmentation and uneven skin tone. Sunscreen is a proven method of prevention meaning you will have less problems to manage long term when it comes to preserving your skin.

Do you want to know more about how to best protect your skin from harmful UV rays? Enquire now and book a consultation with one of our skin care professionals.