SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. Well, what does this really mean?
Unprotected skin begins to burn in direct sun, in ten minutes. Even when you have slathered on spf 30, you can theoretically only endure the sun for 30 x 10mins. Don’t want to do math at the beach? You can hang for 300 minutes, and be protected from UVB rays. These are the “burning” rays. The UVA rays are the skin aging and immune suppressing rays. However, it is important to keep in mind some important variables like the time of day, the strength of the sun and as mentioned above, if you have SLATHERED it on.
SPF 15 protects against 93% of UVB rays
SPF 30 protects against 97% of UVB rays
SPF50 protects against 98% of UVB rays
The latest recommendation is nothing less than 30 and not more than 50 of a broad spectrum sunscreen. When we go higher than 50 we are increasing our exposure to chemicals and if it is not a broad spectrum [uvb/uva] product then you will receive more uva rays. In Europe and Australia there is ingredient testing for UVA protection but here in the US the FDA has not yet instituted this testing.
The next thing to consider, is that not all sunscreens are the same or equal. It’s a bit ironic that we comply with the need and importance of this to avoid “skin”cancer but did you know that many of these products are a recipe of toxicity that mess with our reproductive and endocrine systems? Oh yeah! Just have a stroll/surf through the complete list of safe and unsafe sun screens at EWG.org/sunscreen/ Search your current go-to for sunning and see their toxicity and protection ratings 1-10 (1 being the least toxic ingredients and 10 the most).
Here you will find the good and the bad as well as how to choose the right product for you and the wee-ones!
Below, a bit of teaser of some brands that may surprise you.
BANANA BOAT KIDS
Surely, this is not the first time you’ve read or heard the basics for applying sun protection but here is your refresher.
Apply naked, in front of a mirror. Don’t forget neck, ears, lips and eyelids.
Apply liberally 15-30 minutes before direct exposure
Reapply every 2 hours, after swimming or excessive sweating.
Avoid the peak hours 12-2pm.
Let in a little Vitamin D.
A recent study out of Sweden, of 29,000 women over 20 years, has indicated that overprotection is not good either. Their analysis indicated a longer life expectancy. Though they are not suggesting that you bake yourself to a crisp for longevity, they did find lower risk of cardiovascular disease, MS and pulmonary diseases, in those who did take sun versus those who did not. The study does not specifically suggest this is mediated by Vitamin D, but given recent additional research that does report an overall finding of unhealthy D levels, some is better than none.