How to choose a sunscreen – SPF index
In the previous post we have discussed the types of ingredients most often included into sunscreens. And now we will speak about SPF indices.
Sun Protection Factor (SPF) shows the efficiency of the sunscreen in protection of your skin from UV rays. The higher the index the better the protection is, though some producers tend to overrate the indices.
UV rays come in two types – UVA (UV rays of a type) and UVB (UV rays of B type). UVA rays are responsible for the aging effect of the sun. Besides, if you lie in the sun for too long UVA rays can cause skin cancer. UVB rays cause sunburns and skin cancer as well.
It is best to choose a product that states, “UVA/UVB,” protection or has “broad spectrum” protectant.
To determine which SPF index works best for you, it is necessary to know the photo type of your skin. There are six of them.
Photo type 1 – Blond and red-haired people with fair skin. Their skin doesn’t get a tan, it immediately gets burnt. Such people are not recommended to sunbathe. But if a seaside is the only desirable place to spend the vacation these people should use sunblocks with maximal SPF index – SPF-60 and UVA-16.
Photo type 2 – Blond and red-haired people with grey or hazel eyes. They also run the risk of getting sunburnt but if they apply sunscreen with maximum SPF index during first few days, other days they can use a sunscreen with lower indices (down to SPF 20 depending on individual characteristics) without doing harm to their skin.
Photo type 3 – People with hazel eyes, dark-blond or brown hair and fair skin. This photo type is the most widespread and gets a tan easily. But to protect the skin from burns during first days of vacation it is advised to use sunscreens with maximum SPF indices. However, when the skin gets accustomed to the sun SPF index can be decreased to 15.
Photo type 4 – Brunettes with dark eyes and dark skin. People of this photo type get an even tan and usually don’t need much protection. Just for prophylactics try sunblock with SPF 6.
Photo type 5 – People with dark hair and very dark skin, mostly of North African origin. They can use sunscreen with minimum SPF index as their skin has natural protection from sun impact and never gets burnt.
Photo type 6 – African people with black skin. They should use only a moisturizer as their skin does not need any protection.
And now a few more tips for you to know and use to protect your skin well:
- Apply the sunscreen at least 20 minutes before you go to the beach, NOT at the beach!
- Pay particular attention to your protruding areas, such as your nose, shoulders, chest.
- Apply the sunscreen all over your body, including ears, area around eyes and mouth.
- Avoid applying too much but don’t economize either as too thin layer will not provide good protection.
- Apply the second layer of sunblock after three or four swims because even water resistant sunscreen will wash off after you dry yourself with a towel a few times.
- Sunbathe in morning and evening hours.
- Wear sunglasses to protect sensitive skin around your eyes.
- When buying the sunblock check the expiry date.
- Make sure you like the smell of the sunscreen.
That is all you need to know about sunscreens. Keep all that in mind and enjoy your vacation!
- spf index
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