The African sun is beautiful, but too much can be harsh on the skin. Here we break down what SPF actually means and how much sunscreen you should actually wear.
Labels can be confusing and sometimes it’s tricky to know which SPF to use, which sunscreen type is better for your skin, if you need different ones for face and body and also how often you should apply… But don’t worry – we’ve got you covered.
How exactly does sunscreen work?
Sunscreen is what protects skin from ultraviolet (UV) rays and light exposure. Exposure to light without adequate protection not only accelerates aging of your skin, but it also increases the risk of skin cancer. It’s been scientifically proven that even using a minimum of SPF (Sun Protection factor) 15 every day, can help reduce your chance of skin cancer.
Here are the main line items to look for on your sunscreen labels:
- Does the sunscreen protect against both UVB and UVA rays? UVB rays cause sunburn as well as skin cancer. UVA rays can also cause cancer and can age the skin prematurely.
- Choose SPF 30 or higher. Why? The SPF number tells you how long the sun’s UV radiation would take to burn your skin. For example, if it takes 30 times longer to burn your skin with a sunscreen on than it does without sunscreen applied, the SPF is 30. If you’re going to be outside for a prolonged period, like if you’re at the beach or playing sports, dermatologists recommend using an SPF of 50 or higher.
- Look for “water-resistant”. This means you’ll stay protected even when sweating or doing water sports, like swimming.
Tips to avoid sunburn
- Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before venturing outside.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, it takes approximately 15 minutes for your skin to absorb the sunscreen and protect you. If you wait until you are in the sun to apply sunscreen, your skin is unprotected and can burn.
- Don’t forget those tricky areas!
Remember your neck, face, ears, tops of your feet and legs. For hard-to-reach areas like your back. If you have thinning hair, either apply sunscreen to your scalp or wear a hat. To protect your lips, apply a lip balm with a SPF of at least 15.
- Reapply sunscreen every two hours.
And immediately after swimming or sweating. People who get sunburned usually didn’t use enough sunscreen or used an expired product.