SPF 101: Understanding the Numbers

Let’s be real, there’s a lot to unpack when it comes to all the ins and outs of SPF. One of the biggest questions you’ve probably had at one point or another is “What does the number mean” right? Well, your friends here at Avatara Skin aren’t just here to help get you the answer but dive a little deeper so you feel like an SPF expert! 

What's SPF Anyway?

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor, and it's like a shield that helps protect your skin from those sneaky (and super damaging) UV rays. Here are a few key details we want you to walk away with:

The SPF Breakdown

Hold up though…let’s quickly address a common misconception often associated with SPF: that higher numbers automatically mean a huge difference in protection. To make things simple, we’re going to break it down in a myth vs fact kind of way:

It’s easy to assume SPF 30 gives you 30 hours of sun protection, and SPF 50 gives you 50, but NOPE - not true! Remember, SPF estimates how much longer your skin can handle the sun BEFORE getting burned. So, if you typically burn in 10 minutes, SPF 30 theoretically gives you 300 minutes (5 hours).

But here's the kicker: Sunscreen isn't a one-and-done deal. Sweat, swimming, and even just time wear it down. That's why reapplying every two hours is crucial, NO MATTER the SPF. So, slather it on, set a timer, and reapply like a boss to keep that sun protection game strong!

Ready to Recap?

SPF = Sun Protection Factor.

It's like a shield against those pesky UVB rays that cause sunburn. Higher SPF means stronger protection, but there's a catch...

It's NOT about lasting longer. 
SPF 30 doesn't mean you can bake in the sun for 30 hours. It estimates how much longer your skin can handle the sun before burning compared to no sunscreen.

So, what's a good number? 
Honestly, SPF 30 is a solid starting point for most of us. It blocks about 97% of UVB rays, which is pretty good! Higher SPFs offer a tiny bit more protection, but not enough to skip reapplying.

Think beyond just UVB 
Use a broad spectrum sunscreen (blocks UVA rays too!), wear protective clothing, and seek shade during peak sun hours.

Reapply, reapply, reapply! 
This is the golden rule of sun protection. No matter the SPF, reapply every two hours, especially after swimming or sweating.

Staying sun-safe = slaying all summer!

So, there you have it - you’re one step closer to being a sun-savvy expert this summer all without sacrificing the health of your skin! Now that you're armed with the knowledge to choose the right SPF and rock that summer glow just remember: it's not just about the number but about reapplying, not falling for all the myths floating around out there, and focusing on broad-spectrum formulas (at least 30, please!) Stay informed, stay protected, and stay fabulous!

Interested in boosting your skin knowledge even more? Head over to our Skin Sessions and be sure to share something new you learned below or tag us on Instagram @avataraskin – we love hearing from you!

Written by Ryan Nelson

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