Skincare, SPF, Summer, Sun Protection, Sunscreen

What Is SPF? + Key Differences

You’ve seen the term SPF on your sunscreen, lotion, and beauty products in the past, but what exactly does it mean? There are many different types of chemical sun protection, and knowing the various terms and what they mean is essential for staying safe in the sun. Here’s what you need to know about SPF when choosing your skincare and beauty products.

What does SPF mean?
SPF stands for sun protection factor, and it is measured in numbers. The number represents the length of time that the product can protect your skin from UVB rays. Ideally, you should wear at least SPF 30 when you go outside in direct sunlight, although if you are particularly fair, you may want to look for more powerful SPF. Many of the most potent sunscreens have at least SPF 50 or sometimes even SPF 100. Keep in mind that the SPF number displayed on the bottle does not indicate how well the product protects against UVA rays, which are the other types of sunlight that can damage your skin. To make sure you are protected against UVA rays, look for a sunscreen that is labeled as broad spectrum.

Natural Vs. Chemical Sunscreen
Another important distinction to note when choosing a sunscreen is whether it is a natural sunscreen or a chemical sunscreen. These sunscreens use different mechanisms to make sure the sun’s rays don’t reach your skin. A natural sunscreen uses a mix of minerals to block the sun’s rays physically. It reflects them out, almost like a mirror. Alternatively, chemical sunscreens absorb the sun’s rays before they reach your skin cells. Many people prefer natural sunscreens because they are much more gentle on your skin.

Titanium Dioxide Vs. Zinc
Zinc and titanium dioxide are two of the ingredients most commonly used in SPF to block out UV rays. They are both ingredients used in physical or natural sunscreen. They are both effective in protecting your skin from the sun, but zinc is typically considered to be a little bit stronger. Zinc is also antimicrobial, so it can help your wounds heal faster if you have any. Titanium dioxide, however, is a little bit gentler. Both are safe to use and will protect your skin, so ultimately it comes down to what’s important to you in a sunscreen.

Nano Vs. Non-Nano Zinc Oxide
In the zinc category, you have the option of nano or non-nano sunscreens. Nano sunscreens use extremely small particles. This means that they won’t leave a white cast on your skin, which is something that many people look for. However, because they are so small, it is much easier for these particles to absorb into your body. If you have sensitive skin or are just concerned with what you are consuming in general, you may prefer non-nano sunscreen.

You have many options when it comes to choosing a sunscreen, and for many people, it can be challenging to decide on a product. The more informed you are, the easier it is to choose a safe product that will protect your skin from harmful UV rays and keep aging at bay.

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