In the spa, I get this question a lot. The most frequent mistakes I see have less to do with the spf level—which doesn't offer considerably more protection over spf30—and more to do with forgetting to reapply or failing to use a hat as a physical barrier.
I'm wearing my favorite sun hat in this photo. Read on for additional advice.
The Sun Protection Factor (SPF) measures the level of protection a sunscreen offers against the sun's harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays.
In general, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher for daily use. This SPF level can provide adequate protection against about 97% of the sun's UVB rays. Higher SPFs, such as SPF 50 or 50+, can block slightly more UVB rays, but the difference is not significant. It's essential to remember that no sunscreen can provide 100% protection, so additional sun protection measures are also crucial.
Additionally, regardless of the SPF level, you should reapply sunscreen every two hours and after swimming or sweating heavily.
Apply generously: Use enough sunscreen to cover all exposed areas of your skin thoroughly. Don't forget commonly missed areas like the ears, back of the neck, and tops of feet.
Reapply regularly: Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours, or more frequently if you're swimming or sweating.
Seek shade: Limit your sun exposure during peak hours (usually between 10 am and 4 pm), when the sun's rays are the strongest.
Wear protective clothing: Consider wearing wide-brimmed hats, long-sleeved shirts, and sunglasses to further protect your skin and eyes from the sun.
Use other sun-protective measures: Sunscreen should be just one part of your sun protection routine. Seek shade, wear protective clothing, and avoid tanning beds.
Choose water-resistant sunscreen: If you plan to be in the water or sweating, opt for a water-resistant sunscreen to ensure it stays effective longer.