Sunscreen: What's your SPF?

By Brett Benton on Aug 3, 2016

If you have ever caught yourself standing in front of a display of sunscreens wondering, what's the difference between SPF 30 or SPF 15 is and which one you should use, you are not alone. While you may think using a higher SPF will protect you more than another, it’s important to understand what sunscreen does and what is recommended for your skin type.   

The first sunscreen was invented in 1936 by chemist Eugene Schueller to protect oneself from the sun's harmful rays and ultimately reducing the risk of skin cancer. Schueller later coined the word SPF to create a gauge, based on one's skin and the time said person would be exposed to the sun. SPF or Sun Protection Factor refers to the amount of time that one could stay in direct sunlight and still be protected from the suns UV rays. For example, SPF 15 means that an individual could be in direct sunlight 15 times longer than an individual with no sunscreen on. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is better to use an  SPF 100 all the time. Your skin type  and  how  much  sun   you   are trying to absorb will ultimately determine what SPF you should use. 

Once you determine the SPF that is best for your skin, one must then decide whether to use a spray or lotion sunscreen, as both have their own benefits. 

Spray sunscreen is great for most application purposes because it allows you to reach areas of your body that you could not normally reach, such as your back. Another added benefit of spray sunscreen is that it's great for a quick application and for an even coat. However, it is not ideal for applying a thicker layer if you would like to be more protected. 

Lotion sunscreen, on the other hand,  is  great  for  applying  thicker layers but lacks in the other benefits listed above. Which one you use is up to you as each type has its own strengths and weaknesses. The main point is that regardless of which you decide to use, just make sure that a sunscreen is applied.