What is SPF?
SPF (Sun Protection Factor) indicates how well and for how long sunscreen products protect against UVA/UVB radiation and sunburn. But you should always choose your SPF based on your skin type, how high the UV index is at your location, your activity level (will you be laying still sunbathing or will you be playing sports?) and your surroundings – surfaces such as water and snow can reflect the sun’s rays and make them even stronger. Snow can actually reflect up to 90% of UV-radiation which can lead to serious sunburn – so don’t forget that SPF50 next time you go skiing.
Is a higher SPF better?
We bet you’ll be surprised: SPF30 actually absorbs 96% of the sun’s UV-radiation and SPF50 absorbs 98% of the sun’s UV-radiation, so the amount of radiation blocked is not actually that different. The difference between SPF30 and SPF50 is how long you can stay in the sun before getting sunburned, not their level of protection against the rays in general.
A higher SPF can also result in a fake sense of protection and lead to burns and sun damage, because people think they can avoid reapplying their sunscreen with a higher SPF.
How long does the protection last?
If your skin normally burns after 10 minutes in the midday sun, a proper application of SPF20 would allow you to stay in the sun 20 times longer (200 minutes) without burning. The same principle goes for SPF30 and SPF50.
UVA, UVB – what’s the difference?
We can see some of the sun’s rays – but not all of them. Three different kinds of sunrays reach the Earth:
- Visible rays that can be seen with the naked eye
- Infrared rays
- Ultraviolet (UV) rays, which, according to their wavelength, can be either UVA or UVB rays.
UVB rays are not as strong as UVA rays and only penetrate the outer skin layer, causing slow tanning, but they are one of the main reasons for sunburn and skin cancer. UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin, even through clothes and glass, and they cause skin aging, wrinkles and skin cancer. That’s why it’s important to choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays, like our Bambo Nature sunscreens, in both SPF30 and SPF50.
Get the best protection
For the best protection against UVA/UVB rays, it is important to use the right amount of sunscreen and to reapply, reapply, reapply. The easiest way to remember the right amount of sunscreen is this: 1 handful for 1 body. This goes for both adults and children.
Is the sun all bad?
Now, all this information might make it sound like the sun should be avoided at all costs; but of course, this is not the case.
The sun also has many good effects, and the human body needs sunshine to function properly. The sun’s rays help us build Vitamin D, which stimulates the metabolism of calcium and promotes bone growth – calcium and strong bones are especially important in children and teenagers as they grow, and up until around the age of 30, our bodies also create calcium storages for us to tab into later in life. Pretty cool, right?
And finally, while sunlight hasn’t been entirely scientifically proven to be a mood-booster, we all know how a grumpy frown can lift at the sight of a little sunshine!