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The Guide

Sun by the Numbers: SPF Decoded

by rdh-admin on May 20, 2014.

We’ve all seen what too much sun can do ­– the lobster-colored skin, the “interesting” tan lines and the peeling. Given enough time, all of that unprotected sun exposure can lead to sunburn, skin cancer or wrinkled and leathery skin; we’re looking at you George Hamilton. Protecting your skin from the sun is a must for every  man. You’ve heard the argument for sunscreen  a thousand times before, but do you really know what SPF means and what number you need?

The SPF (sun protection factor) number tells you two things: the first is an indication of its ability to absorb UVB rays. The second is a multiplier for about how long you can stay in the sun based on how long it normally takes before you start getting red. The math looks like this: 10 minutes x SPF 8 = 80 minutes to learn how to balance on that infernal paddleboard. Of course, there are other factors at stake here – the time of day, genetics, sweating, repeated falls in the water – they all have an effect on how long your sunscreen will last.

  • For the fair skinned: For those with pallor akin to Sean White, you are most susceptible to the sun’s rays. For 1-3 hours of sun exposure, SPF 30 should be used, and for 4 or more hours, play it safe with SPF 50. Try using MD Solar Sciences’ Mineral Lotion SPF 50 for the ultimate in protection.
  • For the olive skinned: Your skin’s darker pigmentation gives you extra protection from the sun but you still need to be cautious. For 1 to 3 hours of exposure use SPF 15 and for 4 hours or more, stick to SPF 30 or 40. With MD Solar Sciences’ Quick Dry Body Spray SPF 40 you’ll get 80 minutes of UVA and UVB protection. With easy application and complete coverage your skin will scoff in the face of sun damage.
  • For the darker skinned:  You’ve never experienced a sunburn, and thanks to your genes, you probably never will. However, you are still susceptible to skin cancer and premature aging, so applying sun protection is vital. For 1-2 hours of sun exposure use SPF 8, for 3 or more hours use SPF 15. For those long days in the sun, enhance your protection with MD Solar Sciences’ Mineral Creme SPF 30.

In general, dermatologists recommend that you apply at least SPF 15 for daily use. Not all sunscreen protects against UVA rays, so check the label for UVA- and UVB-fighting ingredients such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.

Pro Tip: Always apply sunscreen before you start to feel that tingling, sun-baking-your-skin sensation. Reapplication of sunscreen is necessary after about 2 hours. You’re not a reptile – shedding skin is not natural or attractive – so always apply the appropriate amount and level of sunscreen.

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