Sunscreen SPF: How Much SPF Do You Really Need?

Sunscreen SPF: How Much SPF Do You Really Need?
Sunscreen Peter Dutton / Flickr CC BY 2.0

Summer has officially kicked off, and one of the must-have accessories everyone should have is sunscreen. But how much sunscreen SPF should you actually get?


SPF stands for sun protection factor, which indicates how much a certain product protects the skin from the harmful rays of the sun, especially the ultraviolet rays, which can cause skin cancer.

Scientifically, there is no sure answer to this question, but some experts attempted to at least attempt to guide people about the right amount of SPF the skin should get.

Today, various brands of sunscreen products come in different SPF levels ranging from SPF 15 all the way to SPF 70. In a report from the Washington Post, Dermatologist Shari Lipner from Weill Cornell Medicine said that it really pays to check the label before grabbing one, because the amount of SPF a sunscreen product contains says a lot about its protective power from harmful rays.

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Lipner said it usually takes around 20 minutes before the sun bakes the unprotected skin. A sunscreen product that has SPF 15 extends the time you can enjoy for 15 times without getting burnt. That’s around five hours. But here’s the catch: because sunscreen usually gets washed away easily, one should re-apply it every two hours.

If you do the math, a sunscreen product with SPF 70 gives you protection from harmful rays of the sun for 23 hours. Unless you’re planning to stay under the scorching sun the whole day, picking products with SPF 40 is a safe choice, Lipner added.

“Most people just don’t apply enough. So if you use a higher SPF, it can make up for using a little less than you should,” Lipner was quoted as saying by the Washington Post.

In a report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, it was revealed that skin cancer is the most common type of cancer across the United States. Latest data from the CDC revealed that there were about 67,753 individuals diagnosed with skin cancer in the U.S., of which around 39,673 are males and 28,080 are females.

Also Read: Number Of Moles Has Nothing To Do With Skin Cancer