Skip to Content

Sun protection-What is SPF and how to protect your skin?

Sun protection-What is SPF and how to protect your skin?

Sharing is caring!

Sun protection-what is SPF and how to protect your skin from the sun is something that probably everyone worries about every year. Especially people with children. Where to go, is there enough shade, are the beaches sandy or rocky, will it be safe for the children and things like that. Those are the questions that we can not escape. We have to be sure that everything is adjusted and safe so everybody can enjoy themselves without fear and unwanted events.

The best time of the year!

Summertime is a favorite time of the year for almost everyone. It is warm, sunny and it is vacation time. Everyone is looking forward to it and expecting it impatiently. Adults working hard for having perfect summer holidays and the children are studying patiently so they do not have to spend their holidays learning instead of swimming and playing in the sun.

For a pefect summer-need to be extra precautious

But for having a perfect summer holiday, free from sunburns and other skin and health problems we have to do some precautions. When you took care of all the other things you are worried about every year when you are planning a vacation, there are a few things you need to pay attention, too. And you should be paying attention to them even you are not on vacation. Because, summers in the city could be dangerous, too.

Here are 5 important things you have to know and to take care of during the summer, so you can protect yourself and your family (FDA):

  • What is SPF?
  • Use the sunscreen with correct SPF
  • Cover your skin
  • Reapply with your sunscreen
  • Limit your time in the sun

#1  Sun protection-What is SPF?

SPF is a measure of how much UV radiation can induce sunburns on skin protected with sunscreen relative to the unprotected skin. Higher SPF means higher sun protection. That is not something that tells you how many hours you can be in the sun. It is about the amount of UV radiation you are protected from when you are outside in the sun. Kind of radiation that can cause sunburn and other skin damage. For example SPF 15 blocks 93% of UV rays we are exposed to.

There are two types of UV radiation:

  • UVA radiation
  • UVB radiation

UVA radiation goes deep into the skin and that way increases the risk of skin cancer, premature skin aging, and wrinkles. UVB radiation causes less serious damage like sunburns.

The SPF (Sun protection factor) scale for UVB rays:

  • SPF 15 blocks 93% of UVB rays
  • SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays
  • SPF 50 blocks 98% of UVB rays

Tip: It is recommended to use sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 15 for UVB radiation and sun safety. But if you really want to be safe you should use sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher.

Sun protection-Protect your skin and enjoy the sun

But the fact is that UVA radiation is 500 times more present during the day than UVB radiation and that traditional sunscreens protect and usually blocks UVB rays. So when you are buying for your sunscreen it is important to pay attention to the label and make sure that you get a broad spectrum sunscreen product. That is the only way to be sure that you get your UVA protection, too. Broad-spectrum UVA protection level is proportional to its UVB protection level (SPF scale). (FDA)

Uv rays index

United States has a UV ray index for the entire country. To rate the strength of UV radiation there is a given number between 0-15. Find out how your city is rating and what are the risks of UV radiation by checking National Weather Service.

UV ray index for the United States:

0-2 rating

  • Risk: minimal
  • Minutes to burn: 60 minutes
  • Precautions: sunscreen, UV sunglasses

2-4 rating

  • Risk: low
  • Minutes to burn: 45 minutes
  • Precautions: sunscreen, UV sunglasses

4-6 rating

  • Risk: Moderate
  • Minutes to burn: 30 minutes
  • Precautions: Sunscreen, UV sunglasses, and hat

6-10 rating

  • Risk: High
  • Minutes to burn: 15 minutes
  • Precautions: Sunscreen, UV sunglasses, hat, and umbrella

10-15 rating

  • Risk: Very high
  • Minutes to burn: 10 minutes
  • Precautions: Sunscreen, UV sunglasses, hat, umbrella, and avoiding a midday sun

Fact: Even on an overcast day, up to 80 percent of the sun’s UV light can get through the cloud.

#2  Use the sunscreen with the correct SPF!

It is important to use sunscreen with the correct SPF to get the necessary protection from the sun. To know what is the correct sun protection factor for you, you have to be aware of your skin type and possible risk to get sunburns or any other damage from the sun. If you have fair skin you will be needed sunscreen with higher SPF than people with dark skin.

Sunscreens can come in any form, like:

  • Lotions, creams, oils, gels
  • Butter, pastes, sprays, sticks

Depend on what you like and if your skin dry, oily, or in combination you will pay attention to sunscreen form and ingredients. Because we always have to pay attention to our skincare and skincare routine even when we are choosing our new sunscreen lotion.

Use the sunscreen with the correct SPF

Sunscreens are not waterproof

Sunscreens have no water resistance and they all eventually wash off. But the labels must contain information on whether sunscreen stays effective for 40 or 80 minutes if you are sweating or swimming so that you know when to reapply.

Keep sunscreen out of the sun

Every sunscreen label also contains a notion to keep the product from excessive heat and direct sun. So, for the sunscreen to stay in good condition, you should protect it from the sun. You can wrap it in towels or keep it in a cooler. Also, you can put it in shade, away from the sun exposure.

Do not use sunscreen on children under the age of six months!

It is not recommended to use sunscreens on infants. They have more chance to get the side effect of sunscreen than adults, such as rush. So the best way for sun protection-what is SPF and how to protect your skin from the sun is to keep them away from the sun entirely so you do not have to use sunscreen on them.

For the children, over six months of age, you should use direction given on the sunscreen label (FDA). Or you should consult a board-certified dermatologist for advice.

Sunscreen ingredients

Every product has active and inactive ingredients. Sunscreen active ingredients are the ones protecting you from the sun′s UV radiation. Inactive ingredients are all other ingredients that are not active. Those are water and oils which are used to formulate sunscreen texture.

Sunscreens acceptable active ingredients are:

  • Aminobenzoic acid

And also:

  • Octisalate
    Padimate O
    Titanium dioxide
    Trolamine salicylate
    Zinc oxide

This is the list of acceptable active ingredients in sunscreens, so next time you are buying it you could pay attention to it. A lot of ingredients can get into your body through your skin so they must be tested and approved by official institutions such as FDA.

Tips on how to apply sunscreen:

  • Apply 15 minutes before you go outside. This allows the sunscreen (of SPF 15 or higher) to have enough time to provide the maximum benefit on exposed skin.
  • Use enough to cover your entire face and body (avoiding the eyes and mouth).  An average-sized adult or child needs at least one ounce of sunscreen (about the amount it takes to fill a shot glass) to evenly cover the body from head to toe.
  • Know your skin. Fair-skinned people are likely to absorb more solar energy than dark-skinned people under the same conditions.
  • Reapply at least every two hours, and more often if you are swimming or sweating. (FDA)

Tip: Be sure that you apply sunscreen on frequently forgotten spots:

  • Ears
  • Nose
  • Lips
  • Back of the neck
  • Tops of feet
  • Along the hairline
  • Areas of the head exposed by balding or thinning hair

Tip: Do not use sunscreen with an expired date or one without an expiration date on it′s label.

Fact: Sunscreens in the US are declared as drugs because they have a medical purpose to prevent sunburns, cancers, premature aging, and wrinkles. In Europe and other countries, sunscreens are declared as cosmetic.

#3  Sun protection-What is SPF and how to protect your skin from the sun-Cover your skin!

To protect your body from the sun and sun damage you should also wear clothing that covers your skin exposed to the sun, such as long-sleeved shirts, pants, broad-brimmed hats, and sunglasses. Especially if you have to be outside at the time that sun rays are the most intense.

This is a very important subject for people with children, too. Children′s skin is too far more sensitive than adult skin, so you have to be extra careful. And pay more intention when you are buying summer clothes for them. But how to choose what is the best clothing for hot weather, for the children and adults.

First, it is good to know what kind of fabric is the most suitable and effective during the summer. So when you are shopping for summer clothes, you should pay attention to the texture and the type of fabric that clothes are made of. That is the only way that you can get the necessary sun protection and comfort. Also, you should pay attention to the color of the fabric, because different color means different UV protection.

White is the best color for the summer

The best fabrics for the hot weather:


Cotton is the fabric that is the best for the summer and warm weather. It is breathable, soft, lightweight, and soaks up the sweat. Also, it does not allow heat to come to your body so that way you can stay cool and fresh. But cotton has its downsides too because it tends to wrinkle. And if you are sweating a lot, it becomes wet and heavy. To deal with that problem fabric industry come up with a solution and made a lot of variety of cotton blends.

One of them is the cotton-polyester blend which does not wrinkle that much and is easy to iron. So, if you want to stay cool and comfortable during the warm summer days, and you do not have a problem with sweating, cotton is the best solution for you. And it is certainly the best solution for the children, too. Here is the collection of the best baby sun protective clothing. For the older children, too.


Linen is also one of the good solutions for hot weather. His texture is very light and loosely woven which keeps the heat away from your body. It soaks up a lot of moisture and in that process becomes stiff and it can be a little bit uncomfortable. But it dries quickly, and, in that condition, it stays away from your body so you can stay cool and dry. And that is a good side of it.

It also wrinkles as cotton, too. So if you want to change from the cotton you should go with linen for the summer. Beautifully design dresses look very tempting with this material, and the dress is always a good choice for summer days. And if you still wandering about sun protection-what is SPF and how to protect your skin from the sun, choosing the right fabric is one of them.

Few facts:

  • More layers of clothing do not necessarily mean more protection. The most important protective factor of fabrics is weave density—the tighter the knit or weave, the smaller the holes and the fewer UV rays can get through.
  • Darker colors absorb more UV than lighter colors like whites and pastels. This means the UV rays are less likely to reach your skin. But bright colors such as red can also absorb UV rays. The more vivid the color, the greater the protection—a bright yellow shirt is more protective than a pale one.
  • Synthetic fibers like polyester and nylon are more protective than bleached cotton or semi-synthetic fabric such as rayon.
  • More stretch means UV rays will more easily penetrate the fabric. Sporting clothes that do not hug the skin may increase UPF.
  • Wet fabrics often take on a lower UPF.
  • Old, frayed, or faded garments are less effective in protecting the skin against harmful rays. (University of Utah)

Tip: The more fabric the better!

Protect your and your baby skin with enough fabric

Protect Your Face

To protect your face from sun damage, besides using sunscreen with the correct sun protection factor, you should wear broad-brimmed hats instead of regular ones. They created shade around your head and that way offered more protection from the sun. It is recommended to have at least three inches wide brim so that could protect your neck and shoulders, too.

You can use safari hats, cowboy hats, straw wide-brim hats, and mash soaker hats. They are all great for the hot weather because they are breathable, and they provide necessary ventilation and UV protection for your head.

Tip: Use hats to protect your children from the sun, too.

We recommended for you to look up for the next types of hats in your shops:

  • Columbia Bora Bora Booney Hat.
  • Quiksilver Pierside Straw Hat.
  • Tilley Airflo Hat.
  • Quiksilver Bushmaster Floppy Bucket Hat.
  • Home Prefer UPF 50+ Sun Protection Hat.
  • Coolibar UPF 50+ Lenny Sport Cap.
  • Wallaroo UPF 50+ Morgan Fedora.
  • San Diego Hat Company Ultrabraid XL Brim SunHat.

Protect Your Eyes

You should, also, protect your and your children′s eyes from the sun, and harmful UV rays. The best way to do that is by using sunglasses. The amount of sunlight that can get to your eyes through the sunglass lenses can be measured, and it is called VLT (Visible Light Transmission).

VLT is measured as a percentage and here are some general guidelines:

  • 0–19% VLT: They are ideal for bright and sunny conditions.
  • 20–40% VLT: Good for all-purpose use.
  • 40+% VLT: These are the best for overcast and low-light conditions.
  • 80–90+% VLT: It virtually clear lenses for very dim and night conditions.

Fact: VLT depends on the thickness and the color of your lenses, the material they are made of, and the coatings they have on them.

Tips for your child safety:

  • Buy high-quality sunglasses for your kid
  • Choose glasses that block 99-100 percent of UVA and UVB rays.
  • Make sure they cover a good portion of the eyes.
  • Buy durable shades.
  • Check them for imperfections before purchasing.
Sun protection-What is SPF and how to protect your skin-Do not go out without a hat!

#4  Reapply with your sunscreen!

Because the sunscreens and, by that, its sun protection factor can wear off and become less effective with time, you have to reapply it regularly. You should reapply at least every two hours, and even more often if you are swimming or sweating.  In that case, it is recommended to reapply after 40 or 80 minutes.

Read the label on your favorite sunscreen. An average-size adult or child needs at least one ounce of sunscreen, about the amount it takes to fill a shot glass, to evenly cover the body. (FDA)

The color of your skin also determines how often you should reapply. You should be especially careful and reapply more often if you have:

  • pale skin
  • blond, red, or light brown hair

Also, reapply your sunscreen more often if you are:

  • been treated for skin cancer
  • a family member who has had skin cancer

If you are taking medications, ask your doctor about sun precautions. Some medications could increase sun sensitivity so you should reapply your sunscreen more often. Or stay in the shade as much as possible.

#5  Limit your time in the sun!

Limit time in the sun, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun’s rays are most intense.

The amount of solar energy is not the same at a different time of the day. It is not the same to be outside at 9 am and 1 pm. You will not get the same amount of solar energy or UV radiation. Or to be precise, the following exposure could result in the same amount of solar energy:

  • One hour at 9:00 am
  • 15 minutes at 1:00 pm

How much solar energy you will be exposed to, also depends on:

  • skin type
  • amount of sunscreen applied
  • reapplication frequency

Knowing this you should put the correct amount of sunscreen on your body related to your skin type and should apply it regularly as FDA directed (at least every two hours). But one of the best ways to protect yourself from the sun is to seek enough of the shade, too.

Sun protection-What is SPF and how to protect your skin-Seek for the shade

Solar energy is more intense in the middle of the day than in the morning or in the evening, so you should pay intention to these facts when you are planning your activities. If you still need to be somewhere in the middle of the day make sure that you protect yourself from the sun using sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, and enough fabric to cover your skin.

All set for the perfect summer?

Every year, in the summer, we all are thinking about sun protection and how to protect our skin from the sun. It is important to take care of it because the sun and its UV radiation can be dangerous. And they can make a lot of damage to your skin and health if you are not protected.

Knowing things like what is SPF, what is your skin type, what is the right sunscreen and correct sun protection factor, and the time of the day that is the most critical could save your life. Especially if you are living in warm weather conditions and you are exposed to the sun for almost a whole year.

So, to be safe, follow this advice about sun protection-what is SPF and how to protect your skin from the sun. Cover your skin in addition to it and you are ready for the hot weather conditions, whether you are living in it or you are planning a vacation. That way you can enjoy yourself and do things without the unnecessary stress and unpredictable health conditions that could ruin your life. Or your holidays.