The Sun, Your Skin, and SPF: Everything You Need to Know

Answering 10 Burning Questions About SPF and Sunscreen

The sun is both a life-giver and a potential source of harm. While we all enjoy its warm embrace and the golden glow it bestows upon our skin, we must also be vigilant about the risks associated with sun exposure. Sun Protection Factor, or SPF, plays a critical role in safeguarding our skin from the harmful effects of the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. 

Understanding the nuances of sun protection, from the difference between UVA and UVB rays to choosing the right ingredients in your sunscreen, is your key to striking the perfect balance between enjoying the sun’s warmth and safeguarding your skin’s well-being. By the end of this guide, you’ll find clarity and assurance in your sun protection practices, ensuring you’re well-equipped to make informed choices for a sun-kissed but well-protected life.

1. What is SPF, and What Does It Stand For?

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor, but what does that mean in practical terms? SPF measures how effectively a sunscreen product can protect your skin from UVB (Ultraviolet B) radiation. UVB rays are responsible for sunburn and are a significant contributor to the development of skin cancer. The SPF number indicates how much longer you can stay in the sun without burning compared to not wearing sunscreen. For example, if you would typically burn in 10 minutes of sun exposure, SPF 30 would allow you to stay in the sun 30 times longer, or 300 minutes (10 minutes x 30).

2. What is the Difference Between UVA and UVB Radiation?

Ultraviolet radiation from the sun can be divided into two main types: UVA and UVB. UVA rays, or Ultraviolet A, penetrate the skin more deeply than UVB rays. They are primarily responsible for premature aging, causing wrinkles, fine lines, and age spots. UVB rays, or Ultraviolet B, affect the outer layers of the skin and are responsible for sunburn. Both types of UV radiation can contribute to skin cancer. This is why it’s essential to choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays.

3. How Much Product Do I Need for Adequate Protection?

The amount of sunscreen you need for effective protection depends on your body’s surface area. A general guideline is to use about one shot glass full of sunscreen to cover your entire body. Remember that under-application can reduce the effectiveness of your sunscreen, so it’s essential to be generous with your application.

4. What is the Difference Between Physical and Chemical Sunscreens?

The two terms “organic/inorganic” create some confusion, and it has been shown that brands exploit this to mislead consumers. In the context of sunscreens, the term “organic” is not what it seems. It refers to chemical sun filters, which are scientifically labeled as “organic.” Organic sunscreens, also known as chemical sunscreens, absorb and neutralize UV rays into heat.

Newer organic ingredients have evolved, are much more stable than their predecessors, and can provide better sun protection.
The main advantage of chemical sunscreen formulas is that they have a lighter texture, leave no white residue, and are well-suited for daily use in cosmetics.

Until now, it was believed that physical filters settle on the skin and create a barrier to block UV rays.
This is true but only partially. Since the 1980s, laboratories have developed mineral particles in nano-size that can more easily penetrate the skin, thus leaving no noticeable white residue.
Mineral sunscreens generally do not trigger allergic reactions and can have a soothing effect on sensitive skin as they are antimicrobial.

Our Daily Protection Mineral Loose Powder SPF 50+ contains only physical sun filters. You’ll find more information here. For more information about our Daily Protection Liquid Foundation SPF 50+ (physical and chemical sun filter mixed) visit this page. 

5. Does Sunscreen Prevent Tanning?

Sunscreen does reduce the risk of sunburn, which is a visible sign of skin damage, but it does not entirely prevent tanning. Tanning is your skin’s natural response to UV exposure, and it’s a sign that your skin has been affected by the sun. While a tan may be considered attractive to some, it’s essential to recognize that it signifies skin damage and an increased risk of skin cancer. Sunscreen should be used not only to prevent sunburn but also to minimize tanning and the associated risks.

6. How harmful are sun rays really? 

The sun produces various solar emissions, including visible light, heat, infrared radiation, and ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which is not visible to the human eye.

UV rays are beneficial in small amounts for health as they are needed for the body’s own production of vitamin D. However, excessive exposure to high levels of UV radiation can have negative health consequences for humans. Repeated and unprotected sun exposure leads to premature skin aging and an increased risk of skin cancer.

It is important to know that there are different types of UV rays, each affecting our skin differently. They are classified based on their energy and wavelength, measured in nanometers (nm). The wavelength range of UV radiation is between 100 and 400 nm, divided into three categories: UVA, UVB, and UVC radiation.

7. How exactly does UV radiation cause the skin to age?

The UV rays of the sun cause a DNA change in the skin, leading to premature aging.
When our skin proteins, responsible for the skin’s structure, are attacked, this results in an overcompensation of pigment stimulation.
This reaction is nothing more than a natural skin protection function.

UV rays attack collagen in the skin by generating free radicals. These unstable molecules steal vital energy from healthy skin cells, causing oxidative stress and breaking down the collagen fibers responsible for maintaining skin’s firmness.

The timing of sunscreen application is crucial for optimal protection. Apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before sun exposure. This allows the product to bind to your skin and provide a protective barrier. Reapply sunscreen every two hours, or immediately after swimming or sweating. Over time, sunscreen may become less effective, especially if it’s rubbed off or washed away.

Woman puts on sunscreen in the sun

9. What about the topic of Reef-Safe?

The term “reef-safe” implies that a sunscreen has minimal or no impact on coral reefs. However, the reality is that no sunscreen can be considered entirely safe for coral reefs. To be honest, they are currently not sufficiently regulated.

What can we do?
Sunscreen generally has minimal impacts unless you plan to swim near coral reefs. In such situations, we should try to maximize the use of other forms of sun protection (shade, sun-protective clothing) to minimize sunscreen application.

Read more about this topic in our blogpost: “There is no such thing as reef friendly”.

10. Should I Apply Sunscreen Over or Under My Moisturizer?

The order of your skincare routine can impact the effectiveness of both your sunscreen and moisturizer. In general, sunscreen should be applied as the final step in your skincare routine. This ensures that it forms a protective barrier over your moisturizer and other products. However, if your moisturizer contains SPF and offers adequate sun protection, you can apply it as directed on the product label, typically before your makeup. Our Daily Protection Hydrating Day Cream is a hybrid moisturizing sun protection. It is the ideal lightweight non-greasy solution for the base layer of your skincare routine.  It performs a double-duty, pumping skin full of moisture while protecting it from the sun’s harmful UV rays, without leaving any chalky, white cast on your face.

Reef Safe Beach with sunscreen

A summary of the 10 most common questions about SPF

In conclusion, SPF and sunscreen are your allies in the fight against the sun’s potentially damaging effects. Understanding the nuances of sun protection, choosing the right products, and using them correctly can help keep your skin healthy and youthful. Embrace the sun safely, protect your skin, and relish the beauty of life under the sun!

We would love to here from you and answer your questions you might have. Send us a message on Instagram we can’t wait to hear from you!

You only have 1 version of your skin – don’t forget to protect it as much as possible.



For more information about our SPF50+ products click here

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