Using a sun cream or tanning lotion with added SPF, or Sun Protection Factor, is a really simple way to help reduce your risk of burning, and helps keep your skin feeling great when under stress from the damaging rays of the sun. Ideally, you should be using SPF 15 every day, no matter how great the weather, as all sun (even on overcast and miserable days) can wreak havoc with melatonin levels; which is linked to cancer. Experts will tell you that a higher SPF is always advised, but where do you draw the line?
Photo credit: HBTanning
Choosing an SPF that is right for you is no one tick all box. You have to understand your skins needs, what you want to achieve in terms of tanning and health, and find the right SPF factor that is going to give you the exact amount of protection. In the past few years, many SPF ratings have been changed, and last year’s bottle of sun tan lotion is likely expired, so now is a great time to invest in a newer product that better meets your needs. We are going to look at how to choose the right SPF with all skin types considered.
Who Will Be Using The SPF?
The first consideration when choosing the right SPF is your skin type. Sensitive skin, those with fair hair, and who are prone to adult acne will benefit from a hypoallergenic product such as Neutrogena Sensitive Skin Sunscreen Lotion which is SPF 60. This won’t throw your skins balance out of the equation as it doesn’t contain oil (many sunscreens do) that clogs up pores, and can be used on the face and body. As a fair hair, fair skinned person, tanning is possibly not something that is possible so going with the highest possible SPF 60 is a great call.
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If you have dark hair and tan easily, then you might want to consider going with a tanning lotion instead that can accelerate your base tan without burning. Australian Gold SPF 30 has enough protection for most people in most places, but watch out for their labeling as they often start with SPF 2 (the lowest), working up their protection in steps of 2. A great way to work up your tan is to start with a high SPF, then work your way down as your skin sees fit. If you don’t have sensitive skin, then you can also have fun with bronzers and oil based sun protection for great results.
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For African American skin types, a daily SPF of 15 is not thought to be needed as the skin has a natural protection of SPF 13. This is why you might notice that African Americans tend to age well with youthful looking skin. No matter how light, medium, or dark you may be, you can still burn which means that a higher SPF should be applied when necessary. SPF 20 would put you on the side of prevention, with SPF 25 to 30 being a great go-to. Avoid products that contain olive oil being place directly on the face if you intend to go out in the sun, as this will reflect the sunrays and can reduce the efforts you’ve taken.
Where Will You be Using the SPF?
Where you plan to go when wearing SPF is one of the largest deciding factors of which one is right for you. If you plan on going fishing, swimming, kayaking, or engaging in other water based activities, then looking for an SPF that is also waterproof (lasting around 80 minutes) as opposed to water resistant (which only lasts for 40 minutes or so) should be your first call. Next, you will want to up the SPF factor from 15 (which is minimal daily use) to at least 45 or 60 (the highest available) as water reflects sun rays, causing a much higher risk of burning.
If you are planning on being active or outdoors and not around water, you would also want to take this advice but may benefit from SPF 30 to 45. This will give you added protection without additional sun block and is the highest level recommended for outdoor use. This is also a great range for building up a base tan as you can stay outside for longer without burning. If you are in cold climates, consider a SPF-15 such as Mario Badescu to ensure you receive added nutrients to prevent your skin from dying out – this is also great for skiing vacations, where many are surprised to learn you can quickly burn on the slopes.
Photo credit: Mario Badescu
As a rule, SPF 30 to 45 is a fairly generic benchmark, so be sure to keep an eye on the weather and ensure that the level suits all times of the day. As with all sun creams, tanning lotions and sun blocks, you do need to re-apply frequently to see results, so always read the label, follow their instructions, and apply at least 15 minutes before you go outside. How you apply will all depend on the product you use, but lotions tend to remain durable as opposed to convenient spray on bottles. Use your common sense!
Are Looking Forward to Summer?
Now that you know which SPF is best suited to your skin type and needs, and what factors to consider in your own unique SPF, why not leave a comment below and let us know what your summer plans are! The Ultimate Guide to Grooming also makes for a great vacation or get-away read, so why not grab your copy today?