Everything You Need To Know About SPF

July 31, 2015


Before going on holiday, the time comes to buy all your sunscreens and tan accelerators, but the real question is: do we even know what we are buying and if it is actually good for our skin or not? This blog will give you all the information you need to know what skin type you are and which SPF is beneficial to you! Don’t just buy anything- go with what’s actually best for your skin!

What is SPF?

SPF lotion is a product combining several ingredients that helps prevent the sun’s ultraviolet rays from reaching the skin. Two types of ultraviolet radiation, UVA and UVB, can damage skin if it is over-exposed to or unprotected from these rays.
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor, and it is a measure of sunscreen’s ability to prevent UVA/UVB from damaging the skin. Here’s how it works: if it takes 20 minutes for your unprotected skin to start turning red, using an SPF 15 sunscreen theoretically prevents reddening 15 times longer (15x20= 300 minutes, so about 5 hours).
Another way to look at it is in terms of percentages. SPF 15 filters out approximately 93% of all incoming UV rays. SPF 30 keeps out 97% and SPF 50+ keeps out 98% percent. They may seem like small differences, but if you are light sensitive those extra percentages will make all the difference! And as you can see, no sunscreen can block all UV rays.


When should you apply your SPF?

Always apply your sunscreen 15-30 minutes before going out in the sun to allow it to properly dry and then again shortly after heading outdoors to cover any missed patches and to make sure you are wearing a sufficient layer!
You should reapply your sunscreen at least every 2 hours, an hour if you do sweat a lot, and after swimming or drying off with a towel. If you begin to notice your skin turning slightly pink and feeling tender don’t wait for the 2 hours to be up! Re-apply your sun screen right away, use a generous amount, and allow your skin to rest in the shade for at least 30 minutes.
Top tip! Always double check the expiration date on the SPF bottle; sunscreen does lose its effectiveness over time!

How to know what SPF is right for your skin?

Dermatologists generally divide the skin types into 6 categories, from skin type 1, fair skin that burns very easily in the sun and does not tan, to skin type 6, which is darker skin that does not burn easily or at all. People with a darker complexion have more natural sun protection, and fair skinned individuals are more susceptible to sun burn.
If you have very fair skin or burn easily, sunscreens with SPF 50+ are recommended. Carrot Sun now has an SPF 60 sunscreen that not only protects skin while exposed to the sun, but still allows tanning to occur when applied in conjunction with a Carrot Sun tan accelerator (Coconut, Papaya, or Watermelon tan accelerators are perfect for your skin type), hence maximizing protection and tanning for those with skin types 1, 2, & 3.
If you don’t burn very quickly, such as skin types 4 & 5, then it’s recommended to use a minimum of SPF 15 or 20. BUT if you know that you will be in the sun for a prolonged period of time and may not get a chance to re-apply SPF as often as needed (or simply can’t be bothered to), or you know you will be swimming for an extended period of time, then a higher factor SPF would be the sunscreen of choice for you, such as an SPF 30 or SPF 50+. If you are worried that it will block you from developing a good tan then try Carrot Sun’s SPF 60 underneath one of Carrot Sun’s tan accelerators (the Carrot or Tropical Fruit tan accelerators work well for your skin type), which will provide maximum protection while still allowing you to tan.
If you have dark skin, tan very easily, and don’t generally burn as with skin type 6, then  you do not need a sunscreen to the same extent as a fair skinned person, but sunscreen will of course still be needed during intense or prolonged exposure. A minimum of SPF 5 or 8 is recommended, but during prolonged exposure higher SPFs are recommended as with skin types 4 & 5 (as above).

Why is SPF important and what is SPF protecting your skin from?

SPF protects your skin from burning and premature ageing that can be caused by extended exposure to UV rays. Ultraviolet radiation is part of the electromagnetic spectrum that reaches the earth from the sun. It has wavelengths shorter than visible light, making it invisible to the naked eye. There are 3 types of UV rays: UVA, UVB, and UVC.

UVA & UVB rays are the most commonly encountered type of UV light. UVA & UVB exposure is what stimulate your skin to produce melanin and tan, and are also responsible for sunburn if exposure is extended (depending upon your skin type). UVA & UVB are needed by humans for synthesis of vitamin D. Most tanning booths use UVA lamps.

UVC is almost never observed in nature because it is absorbed completely in the atmosphere. Germicidal lamps are designed to emit UVC radiation because of its ability to kill bacteria. In humans, UVC is absorbed in the outer dead layers of the epidermis. Accidental overexposure to UVC can cause burning, although this would only occur during exposure to artificial UVC lamps, and not from the sun or tanning beds.

Choosing an SPF is one of the most important things while tanning. We sure love getting a tan, but getting a tan safely comes above all! If you have any questions regarding SPF that we haven’t covered in this blog, don’t hesitate to contact us on hello@carrotsun.co.uk!

Happy safe tanning! xoxo



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