Guide To SPF:
What Is It?

Article Read Duration 7 min read

Living in Australia, most people have been told a thousand times that applying a high SPF sunscreen is essential, especially in the warmer months. However, far fewer people could explain what SPF stands for or how the rating system actually works.

Understanding the benefits of different sunscreen formulas is necessary to be able to choose the best product suited to protect your skin – so, what is SPF in sunscreen? This article will explain what you need to know to choose the right SPF product, as well as how to select a sunscreen for your skin type and needs from our Anthelios range. SPF application advice from the La Roche-Posay experts will also be featured, as well as all the reasons why you should wear sunscreen 365 days a year.

What does SPF mean?

What does SPF stand for? This widely used acronym refers to ‘sun protection factor’. As a universal metric, SPF measures the level of sun protection each sunscreen formula can provide with proper use. More specifically, SPF indicates how long a sunscreen formula can prevent the skin from burning compared to exposure without sunscreen.

 

What is SPF?

SPF measures only one kind of UV protection – UVB rays. These shorter rays are responsible for damage including noticeable sunburn as well as some types of skin cancer. While there's no doube that that SPF is extremely useful for measuring the effectiveness of different sunscreens, this metric does have some limitations. It’s important to note that SPF ratings don’t measure protection against UVA radiation, which can more deeply penetrate the skin to cause long-term signs of ageing, DNA damage and certain skin cancers. For this reason, it’s important to seek out a high SPF sunscreen with broad spectrum protection.

 

How does SPF work?

The key to answering the question of how the SPF works is to think of the SPF number as a multiplier. This number is found by measuring the difference between how long the skin takes to burn without protection, compared to how long it takes to burn wearing the given sunscreen formula.

 

What are the different SPF levels?

It’s simple to understand the true difference between SPF 30 vs SPF 50 by providing a breakdown of the different SPF levels. For SPF 15, the skin can withstand 15X the duration of sun exposure before burning. For example, if your skin can usually last ten minutes before burning, it would take approximately 150 minutes to burn. This works the same for SPF 30 and 50. In terms of UV filtration, SPF 15 blocks approximately 93% of UVB radiation, while SPF 30 comes in at about 97% and SPF 50 at 98%. But, it’s important to note that these values only apply if the sunscreen is applied properly and at regular intervals. Read on for more details.

 

What SPF should you use?

Whether you’re wondering what SPF is best for the face, or the body, La Roche-Posay always recommends the highest available protection. There are no downsides to high SPF protection, so we recommend finding a body and facial sunscreen with SPF 50+. Considering the lifetime dangers of accumulated sun damage, it should come as no surprise that you need to wear sunscreen every day.

 

Facial Sunscreens

If you’re looking for a lightweight non-greasy facial sunscreen, our Anthelios Invisible Fluid Facial Sunscreen SPF50+ consists of a formula made for sensitive skin. This fragrance free, non-comedogenic formula provides very high broad spectrum UV protection suitable for sensitive skin. Of all our formulas, this one provides the most invisible finish.

For those with acne-prone or oily skin, our Anthelios XL Anti-Shine Dry Touch Facial Sunscreen SPF50+ provides broad spectrum UV protection with a mattifying finish. This quick absorbing formula won’t create any extra shine due to its non-greasy texture.

Our Anthelios Ultra Facial Sunscreen SPF50+ has an ultra-comfortable hydrating texture well suited for those with dry skin types. This broad spectrum very high UV protection sunscreen is also formulated for sensitive skin and eyes.  

ALWAYS READ THE LABEL. FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS FOR USE.

Apply 20 minutes before sun exposure. Sunscreen is only one part of sun protection so wear protective clothing and seek shade. Avoid prolonged sun exposure. Reapply every 2 hours and after swimming, towelling and perspiring in accordance with directions.                           

 

Body Sunscreens

When it comes to sunscreen for the body, you can’t go past our water resistant Anthelios Wet Skin Sunscreen SPF50+The advanced Wet Skin Technology means this formula is water resistant for four hours, even when applied on the go to wet skin

For those looking for a body sunscreen that is lightweight, comfortable and leaves no white marks, the Anthelios XL Body Spray Sunscreen SPF50+ makes a great choice. Both non-greasy and non-comedogenic, this sunscreen offers very high protection against sun exposure. 

ALWAYS READ THE LABEL. FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS FOR USE.

Apply 20 minutes before sun exposure. Sunscreen is only one part of sun protection so wear protective clothing and seek shade. Avoid prolonged sun exposure. Reapply every 2 hours and after swimming, towelling and perspiring in accordance with directions.  

 

How often should you apply sunscreen?

When it comes to how often to reapply susncreen, the more often the better. Don’t let a very high SPF or water resistant formula lull you into a false sense of security – most people don’t apply enough sunscreen or reapply often enough. Reapplying at least every two hours is the recommended frequency and more often if swimming, sweating or towelling. 

 

Equipped with your newfound understanding of the critical importance of reapplying your sunscreen regularly, you might be wondering whether this need is compatible with wearing makeup. Read our latest article to learn How to Reapply Sunscreen Over Makeup for all the essential tips.

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