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Question: What Level of SPF Should I Buy?
Skin expert answer: The answer depends on how much you want to protect your skin from harmful UV rays. The varying numbers represent the amount of UV radiation that will be absorbed by the SPF, and in turn how exposed you leave your skin after application. It is recommended to not go lower than SPF 15 and to go as high as SPF 50. You may think that SPF 100 can block 100 percent of UV rays, but that is untrue. Currently there is no evidence to suggest that anything over level SPF 50 will provide any extra protection. Here’s a look at what each recommended SPF level offers:
1. SPF 15: This level of sun protection will absorb 93 percent of UV radiation. While no sunscreen can block 100 percent of harmful rays, SPF 15 will leave your skin vulnerable to about seven percent. SPF 15 is best for daily use if you don’t find yourself outside that often – or for less than twenty minutes at a time.
2. SPF 30: A good middle ground and commonly found in skin care products outside of sunscreen alone, SPF 30 will absorb 97 percent of UV rays. This level with offer better protection than SPF 15 and is more highly recommended if you do think you may take a lunch outside or go for a morning walk with your dog.
3. SPF 50: The highest level, currently recommended, SPF 50 will absorb 98 percent of UV rays. This option is best for those who will spend a good amount of time outdoors, for example, if you take long walks from your home to work or if you plan to go for an afternoon run. The extra percent of protection is worthwhile, especially if you want to keep early signs of skin aging at bay.
Perhaps what is just as important as the level of sunscreen you choose is the fact that it offers broad-spectrum protection. This means that your skin will receive protection from both UVA and UVB rays. UVB rays will burn the outer layer of the skin, while UVA rays will penetrate below the skin’s surface, damaging skin cells and accelerating some early signs of skin aging like fine lines, wrinkles and sunspots.
It’s a good idea to take into account how much time you will be spending in water or sweating while wearing sunscreen and remember to reapply throughout the day at least every two hours if engaging in these activities.
Applying SPF daily is the best thing you can do for your skin. The protection from damaging UVA and UVB rays will better help you maintain beautiful skin that looks young and vibrant, sans any sunburned, peeling skin. Choose the right level of protection that your lifestyle calls for and seek a dermatologist’s opinion for the best option to match your individual skin needs.