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What SPF should your sunscreen have? Find out how it may help premature aging and skin cancer

During the summer, millions of Americans who love to enjoy the hot sun should do their best to protect their skin from harmful ultraviolet rays by following strict sunscreen practices. 

What SPF should your sunscreen have?

Find out how it may help premature aging and skin cancer. 

Roughly one in five Americans would eventually develop some form of skin cancer over their lifetime, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) said in a 2022 report.

What SPF should your sunscreen have?

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends sunscreen with broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays, one that is SPF 30 or higher and is also water-resistant. 

Sunscreen being rubbed on skin

Make sure to use sunscreen that has an SPF of at least 30 or higher, according to the AAD. (iStock)

“SPF” stands for sun protective factor, but many people think the number relates to the time of solar exposure. 

Yet this is not correct, said Dr. Darrell Rigel, clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Icahn School of Medicine and a former president of the American Academy of Dermatology, during a 2022 interview with Fox News Digital.

The SPF number tells how long the sun’s UV radiation will take to cause a sunburn when using sunscreen (as directed) compared to the amount of time without sunscreen, Rigel said.

“Because SPF values are determined from a test that measures protection against sunburn caused by UVB radiation, SPF values only indicate a sunscreen’s UVB protection,” the FDA said.

SUNSCREEN HELPS PREVENT PREMATURE AGING AND SKIN CANCER: HOW TO PICK THE BEST ONE

Rigel said most people will need to reapply sunscreen every 90 minutes, but sweating or swimming may require more frequent intervals.  

He told Fox News Digital that no sunscreen is “waterproof” because all sunscreens will wash off, but sunscreens are labeled “water-resistant” or “very water-resistant.” 

About 50% sunscreens are sold as sprays, he said. Although they more easily cover more surface area, he said that non-spray formulations are often more effective, as it’s difficult sometimes to tell what part of the skin the spray has covered, compared to lotions, which allow people to more accurate.  

“Even on cloudy days, up to 80% of the sun’s harmful UV rays can penetrate the clouds.”

HOW TO KNOW IF YOUR SUNSCREEN IS EXPIRED

“If your shadow is shorter than you are, seek shade,” the AAD said. 

Dermatologists also recommend wearing clothing to cover the skin, such a long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses with UV protection. 

Normally the skin’s epidermal cells turn over in 28 days; but we don’t see the skin turn over because they normally slough off in the shower. 

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But when we have a sunburn, the skin turns over in 5–7 days because the injured skin cells don’t have time to separate, leading to visible peeling of skin, Rigel said. 

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