The best friend for your skin during the summer – and all year round – is without a doubt sun cream. Also known as sunscreen, this product is essential during daily routine no matter what skin type, but there are differences as to which one to use depending on where we are and the intensity of SPF we want, but what does this number mean?
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, the SPF number indicates the amount of how long it would take for the sun to burn your skin in contrast to not wearing any protection. So if the SPF is 30, then it takes 30 times longer for UVB rays to penetrate the skin. The same with one of 50. This said in another way means that an SPF 30 allows 3% of the sun’s rays affect your skin while the 50 only allows the two%.
It’s hard to say that one is always better than the other just based on the SPF number; you have to take into account the spectrum they have. Greater coverage also greater protection. It is also common for people to wear an SPF 50 to be too confident and expose themselves to the sun longer, do not look for shades or do not reapply sunscreen. A higher SPF does not equate to longer protection time.
Another important symbol that usually appears on sun creams is the PA+++ (with a varying amount of ‘+’); This is a metric system designed in Japan to calculate the UV protection. To avoid confusion: SPF refers to UVB rays and PA to UVA rays. The first is the one that burns the skin —it is the one that gives that burning sensation—, while the second penetrates deeper and damages it without you feeling it; It is what causes the skin to turn brown. Similarly, the more ‘+’, the greater the protection.
Sun cream is an essential complement that we must reapply several times a day, every day and not just when we go to the beach or pool. It is even important to emphasize that all skin types need it. There’s an urban myth that those with darker skin don’t need sunscreen, but that’s not how it is portrayed.
The Beth Israel Lahey Health Winchester Hospital affirms that people of color—understood as Black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, etc.— produce higher melanin on the skin. This is what gives color and even a certain degree of protection. The hospital assures that black people with dark skin have a natural skin protection factor (SPF) of up to 13. However, they also warn that, although it will take a little longer, “will burn and remain susceptible to damage induced by the sun – such as spots and wrinkles – and cancer”. So no one is exempt from needing a good sunscreen.