Summer Skin Care: Learning About Sunscreen

08.20.2015

Are you confused by all the numbers and terms associated with sunscreen? Not all sunscreens are created equal. The label on the bottle is critical to your understanding of how a certain brand of sunscreen will protect you from skin damage caused by excessive sun exposure.

In recent years, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has established new labeling rules in an effort to help consumers make informed purchases. Here are FDA-approved labeling terms and what they mean.

sunburn and sunscreenSunscreen. A sunscreen absorbs or reflects UV light, rather than blocking it. Dermatologists strongly recommend that people with all skin types use a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or greater year-round.

Broad-spectrum. A broad-spectrum sunscreen has been proven to provide protection against both UVA and UVB radiation according to FDA-sanctioned test methods. UVB rays cause sunburn, while UVA rays age skin and may lead to skin cancer.

SPF. Sun protection factor (SPF) is a measure of how well a sunscreen can protect skin from UVB rays. The SPF number ranges from 2 to as high as 50 and refers to the product’s ability to screen out the sun’s harmful rays. SPF 15 blocks 93% of UVB rays, SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays and SPF 50 blocks 98% of UVB rays.

Water-resistant. This refers to how long a sunscreen’s SPF level can remain effective while swimming or sweating. Sunscreens that are labeled “water-resistant” must indicate how long they protect the skin, based on standard testing. No sunscreen is waterproof and should be reapplied after a maximum of 80 minutes to maintain protection.

Get Skin Help at RediClinic

RediClinic encourages you and your family to practice sun safety this summer. For treatment of a serious sunburn, rashes and other common skin conditions, visit one of our nine clinics in Austin or many other locations in several major cities throughout the United States. Each RediClinic health clinic is staffed by board-certified clinicians and open seven days a week, with no appointment needed.