What Is The Best SPF To Use?

There is so much information regarding sun protection that it can be difficult to understand what is the best SPF to use that will offer you the safest protection.

SPF – What does it mean?

The term ‘SPF’ or Sun Protection Factor measures the amount of protection a particular product provides against UVB rays (referred to as the burning rays), however currently there is no numerical rating to indicate the level of protection against the UVA rays (referred to as the aging and cancer producing rays).

What Is The Best SPF To UseIf SPF is calculated based on the notion that if skin is exposed to direct sunlight for 10 minutes before being burnt, then applying an SPF of 15 would protect the skin from burning for 150 minutes (10 x 15).

The trouble is, because UVB rays are responsible for burning, most people believe they are fully protected if they use a higher SPF and do not burn, but UVA rays are at work damaging deeper layers of the skin potentially increasing risk of skin cancer and melanoma.

What sunscreen ingredients block out which rays?

  • Sunscreen products which have the term ‘broad spectrum’ protection rather than ‘SPF’.
  • Aminobenzoic Acid and derivatives such as Padimate O
  • Benzophenones such as:- Dioxybenzone and Oxybenzone
  • UVB screening ingredients such as Cinnamates:-  Octyl methoxycinnamate and  Octocrylene
  • Camphor derivates: – benzoate-4 methylbenzylidene camphor
  • Salicylates:- Homosalate, Octyl salicylate, Trolamine salicylate
  • Phenylbenzimidazole


  • UVA blocking ingredients such as Dibenzoylmethanes: – Avobenzone.
  • Mineral blocking ingredients Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide.

It is also important to remember that the ingredients can lose their efficiency if your sunscreen is not stored correctly, if it has been exposed to heat or air for long periods or if the use-by date has expired. Most sunscreens will have a shelf life of between two and three years so remember to check the labelling.

In Australia, the highest level of SPF is 30+, whereas products containing levels of 60+ SPF are readily available in many other parts of the world.  Interestingly, an SPF of 2% filters around 50% UVB rays, an SPF of 10% filters around 85% UVB rays, an SPF of 15% filters around 95% UVB rays and SPF 30 and above filters around 97% UVB rays.
So effectively this means an SPF 30 only offers 2% more protection than an SPF 15.

Knowing what is the best SPF to use will depend on where you live in the world. The best sunscreen you choose however, should contain the ingredients we have listed above so that your sunscreen will provide your skin with the ultimate protection against both UVB and UVA rays.

For more tips on summer skin care read: http://skinhealthhub.com/skin-health/skin-care-summer/

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