What Is SPF And How To Select The Right Suncreen?

Senjuti Chakraborty

Updated At  26 Mar 24

Lately 90% of sunscreen product advertisements keep talking about SPFs and make the audience feel like greater the SPF, better the protection. But, what exactly is SPF and what does it do? Does a higher SPF ensure greater protection from sun? Let’s unearth the facts today!


What is SPF Sunscreen?

SPF or the Sun Protection Factor is the span of time that you would take to burn your skin due to UVB rays when not wearing sunscreen as compared to the span of time taken when you put on sunscreen. For example, if you start burning your skin after 3 minutes of staying out in the sun, applying the usually recommended SPF 30 before going out would ensure that you can stay protected for (3*30) 90 minutes in the sun.

While picking a sunscreen, always make sure you go for a chemical free sunscreen to minimize skin damage in the long term.




SPF is categorized into the following types :-

Low: (4, 6, 8, 10)

Medium: (15, 20, 25)

High: (30, 40, 50)

Very high: (50+)


So which SPF Cream to buy?

These days SPFs usually range from 15 – 50. Sometimes people are mistaken into believing that a lotion with higher SPF will give full protection, but this is a layman misconception.


- SPF 15 blocks 93% of UVB rays

- SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays

- SPF 50 blocks 98% of UVB rays

This means that SPF 30 provides only 4% more protection than SPF 15, and SPF 50 provides 1% more protection than SPF 30! While buying a SPF cream, look for broad spectrum sunscreens that not only block UVB rays, but UVA rays, as well.




Usually, in the suncreen, UVA protection should be aleast 1/3rd UVB protection. High UVB suncreens offer a higher UVB protection but might not provide a high UVA protection, hence choose your sunscreen which offers protection from both UVA and UVB. Additionally, it needs to be water-resistant.


In Short look for the following:-

- Check the SPF number between 15 to 50 and pick the one as per your requirement

- Go for Broad spectrum sunscreen

- Confirm that the sunscreen is water-resistant

SPF also depends on skin complexion. People with a darker complexion usually need a comparatively lesser SPF number as they are blessed with built-in SPF, but that shouldn’t be a reason to not put on sunscreen generously.


How to use the SPF cream?

The best way to protect your skin from harmful ultraviolet rays is to apply 2mg/cm square of lotion onto your skin and retouch it every 2-3 hours. Some people buy a moisturiser with higher SPF but don’t apply the right quantity needed for proper protection.

We often skip putting our sunscreen lotion on when out on a cloudy, rainy day. But, even on those days we must put our sunscreen on, as UV rays manage to reach Earth on damp days, as well and wreak a havoc on everyone’s skin.

Now that you’re well informed, go spread some awareness. But, before doing that remember to put on your sunscreen rightly and reapply every two hours while you bask in the glory of a warm sunny day!