How Much SPF Do You Need in a Sunscreen? Is SPF 30 Enough?

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By: Todd Covelli | Segun Oduolowu | Victor Padilla Posted: 11:14 AM, May 8, 2019 Updated: 11:15 AM, May 8, 2019

If you’ve ever wondered how much SPF do you need?, then keep reading! We all know sunscreen is a must year-round – but which one is right for you? Dr. Christine Lin from Affiliated Dermatology is schooling us on the three basic types of sunscreens: chemical based, mineral based and hybrids – how much SPF you need to protect your skin.

 

1. How Much SPF Do You Need? Is SPF 30 Enough?

 

First, Dr. Lin says no matter what type of sunscreen you choose, SPF 30 and above is a must and to use it often. “I urge everyone to make it a habit,” insists our expert. “Part of your routine every morning [should be] to put on some sunscreen, regardless of whether you’re going to be out in the sun for an extended period of time or not.” You heard the lady!

 

2. Chemical Sunscreen

 

Let’s continue with the most common type of sunscreen: chemical-based. “Chemical sunscreen has an ingredient that is absorbed into your skin,” says Dr. Lin. “It works by converting ultra-violet rays into heat.” Dr. Lin says that it blocks what are called UVB rays – the kind that burn your skin – but you need to apply it 30 minutes before you go out, and you’ll need more than you think. “For the sunscreen to stay effective, you need to reapply every two hours,” she advises. Chemical sunscreen comes with other benefits, too, as they are generally more water resistant, readily available, and cheaper!

 

3. Mineral Sunscreen

 

We’re getting physical with the next sunscreen on our list: mineral-based, or physical sunscreen. “Mineral-based sunscreens generally include one of two ingredients: zinc oxide and titanium dioxide,” explains Dr. Lin. “These are ingredients that are wonderful for sensitive skin.” While some of these leave a chalky residue, they do work right away. “You can apply it a minute before you walk out and it is effective, as it works by reflecting the sun rays off of your skin,” she adds. Mineral sunscreens are also broad spectrum, so they can block out ultra-violet rays in the UVA and UVB range. The UVA rays are the kind that prematurely age your skin. Dr. Lin says a good way to remember this is UVA = age, and UVB = burn.

 

4. Hybrid Sunscreens

 

We’ll close out our class on sunscreen 101 with the best of both worlds: hybrid sunscreen, which is both chemical and physical. The labels on these sunscreens will say “broad spectrum”. The benefit? “By combining a physical sunscreen with some of the chemical sunscreens, the consumer is more assured of having broad spectrum protection, longer lasting protection, and water resistance,” informs Dr. Lin.

 

If you’ve been asking yourself how much SPF do you need?, now you know!

 

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