What is an SPF and what is the right SPF for me?

With the summer upon us, we are all tempted to go to the beach, enjoy the outdoors and the sun. There are a few things you should remember. When choosing your sunscreen, consider the sun protection factor or SPF. This number is useful in determining how long an individual can stay in the sun without burning. The SPF multiplied by the number of minutes it would take for that individual to burn without sunscreen gives the total amount of minutes he or she can stay in the sun with the sunscreen. For a person who burns after 10 minutes without sunscreen, an SPF of 30 would allow him or her to stay in the sun for 300 minutes. Since it is unlikely that someone will get more than five hours of sun in one day, I believe an SPF of 30 to be sufficient.

Furthermore, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has long ago determined that 15 was a complete block. My feeling is that in southern California, it is prudent to go a little bit higher. I recommend a 30 for people living in sunny climates. I do not recommend anything greater than 30 due to the fact that it must be remembered that sunscreens contain chemicals, and chemicals applied to the skin can be absorbed into the body. There is no need to go beyond 30.

Sunscreen has been used significantly for over 40 years, and my feeling is that staying with the original ingredients that have been proven effective and safe is much better than changing to a sunblock with a new chemical that has been on the market for only a short period of time. My concerns are that sometime in the future these newer chemicals might show some toxicity which we know that the older chemicals do not have. Therefore, I think an SPF 30 is more than adequate for adults and babies.

I use the terms sunblock and sunscreen interchangeably. Sunblock/sunscreen should be applied a half hour before going into the sun so the ingredients can be absorbed into the skin and should also be reapplied after swimming, heavy perspiration or showering in order to be effective.

Try my SPF 30 Sunblock.

– Dr. Bussell

Beverly Hills Dermatology Consultants

433 N. Camden Drive, Suite 805   Beverly Hills, CA 90210 | 310-550-7661

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