by Tennille Price, Professional Makeup Artist


SPF refers to the ability of a sunscreen to block ultraviolet B (UVB) rays, which cause sunburns, but not UVA rays, which are more closely linked to deeper skin damage. Both UVA and UVB contribute to the risk of skin cancer.

It is a measure of the time it would take an individual to burn in the sun if they were not wearing sunscreen vs. the time it would take with sunscreen on.


How SPF works:

SPF 15 product blocks about 94% of UVB rays

SPF 30 product blocks 97% of UVB

SPF 45 product blocks about 98% of UVB rays.

Sunscreens with higher SPF ratings block slightly more UVB rays, but none offers 100% protection.

SPF 15 sunscreens are fine if used correctly, but SPF 30 products could be more useful because few people apply sunscreens as heavily or as often as they should.

Because most people use far less sunscreen than is recommended, high SPF sunscreens can offer better protection if not applied consistently as needed. Just remember to look for sunscreens that contain TITANIUM DIOXIDE OR ZINC OXIDE OR BOTH for protection against UVA AND UVB rays.

The best sunscreens need to be used properly to work. The best way make sure you are protected is to reapply sunscreen often.  You can’t put it on in the morning and forget about it.  After a few hours it’s gone.




(Photos provided courtesy of David H. McDaniel, M.D.)

All content solely developed by the American Academy of Dermatology

*Last picture on the right for each patient was taken using a UV Light camera

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Remember, you are never too young or old to begin a skin care regimen and start protecting your skin. Every skin type and color needs care and protection so start today.

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