When shopping for sunscreen, you’ve undoubtedly noticed that every product features SPF, where higher numbers offer better protection from the sun. But what exactly does SPF mean, and how do you choose a sunscreen that’s right for your family? Read on to learn more about SPF before you head out to buy sunscreen for your upcoming spring and summer adventures.



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What is SPF?

The acronym stands for Sun Protection Factor, which is a measurement of how helpful the sunscreen will be with preventing UVB rays from damaging your skin. For instance, SPF 15 filters around 93 percent of UVB rays, SPF 30 filters 97 percent, and SPF 50 filters 98 percent, explains the Skin Cancer Foundation.


What About UVA Rays?

SPF only refers to protection against UVB rays, the Skin Cancer Foundation warns. In order to protect your skin from UVA rays as well, you should look for a broad spectrum sunscreen.


What SPF Should You Choose?

The exact SPF you choose will depend on your skin tone, but everyone should use a minimum of SPF 15, Dr. Joseph Merola shared with Boston Magazine. Sunscreens with an SPF of beyond 50 are no longer on the market as such high SPFs cannot be regulated.


What SPF Should You Use for Young Children?

Children over the age of six months can start using sunscreen, which should have an SPF of at least 30, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends.


What Is the Difference Between Waterproof and Water-Resistant?

Sunscreen is water-resistant if it maintains its SPF level for 40 to 80 minutes in water or during strenuous activity that causes sweating, according to the FDA. Sunscreen can no longer be labeled as “waterproof,” “sweatproof” or be called “sunblock.” You should carefully consider your family’s activities when choosing a product, especially if you’re planning to be in the water.


Although many people are aware of the importance of using sunscreen with an appropriate SPF, they often forget to protect their eyes from the sun’s rays. Proper sun protection for kids should always include a pair of sunglasses offering 100 percent protection from UVA and UVB rays whenever your children are out playing this summer. You can find a range of designs at Real Kids.