Know your SPF!

Believe it or not… sun exposure causes most of the skin changes we think of as the normal part of aging! Always look for a broad spectrum sunscreen when choosing an SPF for your face and body. Broad spectrum will protect you against both ultraviolet B (UVB) rays, the main cause of sunburn, which are the strongest in the summer, and ultraviolet A (UVA) rays, which remain constant throughout the year.

Although less intense than UVB, UVA rays are up to 50 times more predominant, and go through glass, making sun protection necessary indoors as well as out. Remember B, burns while A ages. Looking for an SPF in your moisturizer will help you stay younger for longer, even if you are staying out of the sun!

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor which refers to the theoretical amount of time that you could stay out in the sun without protection. An SPF 15, would protect you 15 times more than your natural sun protection. If your skin would naturally redden after 15 minutes of sun exposure with an SPF 15 it would take 225 minutes. SPF also only applies to UVB rays not UVA. To make sure that you are covered, look for ingredients such as titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. These are opaque materials that reflect light. If applied correctly these will help to block out UVA rays. When choosing an SPF for overall body protection, look for a waterproof SPF 30 and reapply every one to two hours. SPF can easily be washed away by sweating during physical activity or water exposure. You only need to apply an SPF to the body on those days when you are outdoors for an extended amount of time; 20 minutes or more depending on how fair you are. A daily SPF 15 should be applied to the face in your day cream and/ or foundation. This will protect you throughout the day from regular day-to-day exposure. When spending an extended amount of time outside, you should apply your SPF 30 in addition to your regular day protection. SPF 15 layered with an additional SPF 30 does not accumulate into an SPF 45. You are only protected by the largest number you have applied. Even an SPF 100 does not mean twice the protection of SPF 50.

Remember that an SPF 15 sunscreen blocks over 90 percent of UVB rays, so you don’t need an SPF of 80 or 100 for adequate protection. You would only choose these higher SPFs if you have extremely fair skin. This type of protection is unnecessary for common exposure unless recommended by a physician. Proper and repeated application is more important. More sunscreen simply replaces what has worn off, it does not start the clock over.


By Natalie Esau, beauty expert and owner of The Upkeep Shoppe.  Please visit for more details on Natalie Esau and the Upkeep Shoppe.natalie esau