Growing up, I was always lathered in sunscreen before leaving the house. I even remember showing up to school some days and kids saying I smelled like sunscreen. As embarrassing as it was, my mom had my back! She was adamant about wearing a daily SPF, and said that it was like healthy food for my skin. But what is SPF, exactly? It wasn’t until college that I started hearing about all of the amazing benefits of wearing SPF, and how important it is to reduce skin damage. The more I learned about the answers to the questions “what is SPF” and “what does spf mean”, the more grateful I became for my mom’s skin care guidance.
Most people, especially women, lather on whatever is trendy, not knowing if it’s good for them or not. SPF has definitely made its way into the wellness trends over the years, but I think it’s important to know why! Today I’ll be sharing everything there is to know about SPF–what is SPF, what does SPF mean, and I’ll also help you figure out “what SPF do I need”!
What Does SPF Mean?
Before getting into what does SPF mean, we should first go over what is SPF. SPF stands for sun protection factor, and is defined by the FDA as “a measure of how much solar energy (UV radiation) is required to produce sunburn on protected skin (i.e., in the presence of sunscreen) relative to the amount of solar energy required to produce sunburn on unprotected skin. As the SPF value increases, sunburn protection increases.”  Protection isn’t one size fits all, though. Which is why so many people wonder “what SPF do I need?”
Now that we know a little more about what is SPF, let’s dig a little deeper and get clearer on what does SPF mean? The SPF you choose to use depends entirely on where you are (closer or farther from the equator), what your skin type is (susceptible to burning or tanning), and the occasion (direct sun vs intermittent sun).
SPF can range from 15 to 60+. The FDA increased the maximum SPF number from 50+ to 60+, and anything over 15 SPF needs to be broad spectrum.  Broad spectrum SPF is a type of sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. This provides the most coverage from the sun’s powerful rays.
What SPF Should I Use?
Now that you know what is SPF, and what does SPF mean, let’s get into it–”what SPF do I need?” Everyone is unique, and there are a lot of factors that play into which one is right for you. This is not scientifically backed guidance, but here is what my SPF-fanatic mother always recommended when I started to actually care about my skin and would ask her what SPF do I need.
- 15 SPF: This is great for everyday use, and can also be worn under makeup without it getting cakey or being noticeable.
- 30 SPF: This is a perfect SPF for when you’re going to be outside on and off throughout the day, without necessarily sitting and basking in the sun.
- 50+ SPF: This should be your go to SPF for beach days, boat days, or any time you’ll be sitting around outside for long periods of time.
These numbers and breakdown can help you understand what is SPF even better, knowing that the higher the number, the more sun coverage you get!
How To Protect Your Skin From Sun Damage
Aside from SPF, there are a lot of amazing ways you can help protect your precious skin from the sun and sun damage. Here are my top 3 recommendations:
- Shade–I know sunbathing can feel amazing in the moment, but it can be harsh on the skin. Enjoying some shade will not only protect you and your skin, but still give you some healthy exposure thanks to the way sun rays bounce off of surroundings.
- Super Youth Tropical Punch Collagen–Because sun damage can prevent us from producing collagen, collagen is a great supplement to help fight sun and skin damage. The reason I love Super Youth collagen is because their new formula includes skin healthy ingredients like hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, and apple cider vinegar.
- Time Your Sun Exposure–Yes! Avoiding peak sun hours (which are generally between 11 AM and 4 PM) can help reduce the occurrence of sun damage. When the sun is “softer” (lower), you are farther from the sun and not getting as much direct, harsh exposure.
I hope this blog post helped clear some SPF myths, helped you better understand what is SPF, and provided guidance on some amazing (and delicious!) ways to help reduce your risk of sun damage.
Mentioned In This Post
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