Everyone should wear sunscreen every day to protect skin from the damaging rays of the sun. But how much do you know about your sunscreen from the label? And what is SPF?

SPF, also known as sun protection factor, is a measure of the effectiveness of your sunscreen products. The higher the number, the more protection your skin will receive against the sun rays.

UVA and UVB radiation are two different kinds of sun rays that cause different problems for your skin. UVB rays cause skin burns while UVA rays cause premature aging, hyperpigmentation and skin cancer.

“SPF only pertains to UVB rays, not UVA,” said Dr. Joel Schlessinger. “Both can cause skin cancer, so it is a good idea to get a broad spectrum sunscreen if possible.”

Federal sunscreen rules are undergoing many changes, as mandated by the Federal Drug Administration. The FDA is requiring all sunscreen manufacturers in the United States to disclose if they protect against UVA and UVB radiation.

Sunscreens that do not shield against UVA rays or that have an SPF less than 15 will be required to have a warning label that they do not reduce the risks of skin cancer. The highest number of SPF will now be an SPF 50+. For a product to be a broad spectrum sunscreen, they must now guard against both UVA and UVB radiation.

Learn more about what is SPF and the new FDA regulations in regard to sunscreen here.

Dr. Joel Schlessinger’s favorite broad spectrum sunscreen brand is EltaMD. For acne prone individuals, he recommends the EltaMD Clear sunscreen, now available in a lotion and a spray.

What is SPF to you? What’s the most important think you look at when choosing a sunscreen?

Posted Monday, July 9th, 2012 at 7:51 pm
Filed Under Category: Dermatology, Skin Cancer, Sun Damage, Sun Protection, Sunscreen Tips
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