10 Questions To Ask About Your Sunblock

Prevention & Awareness

June 30, 2020

As you head outdoors, it’s important to think about sun safety and how you can protect yourself and your family. Have you ever wondered “What SPF should I use?” Here is the answer to that and several frequently asked questions about sunblock.


What Does SPF Stand For?

SPF stands for sun protection factor. It is a relative measurement of how long a sunscreen will protect you from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) B rays.


What SPF Should I Use?

Both the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommend a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. According to the AAD, sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 “blocks 97 percent of the sun’s UVB rays. Higher-number SPFs block slightly more of the sun’s UVB rays, but no sunscreen can block 100 percent of the sun’s UVB rays.”

What is the difference between UVA and UVB?

UVA are longer wavelengths that penetrate deep into the skin, contributing to skin aging and wrinkles. UVB are shorter wavelengths that affect the skin’s superficial layers, contributing to sun burns.


What Does Broad Spectrum Mean?

A broad spectrum sunscreen protects you from both UVA and UVB rays.


When Should I Throw Out My Sunblock?

The FDA requires that sunscreens remain at their original strength for at least three years. After that time, it is recommended to discontinue use. Some sunblock packaging includes an expiration date.


How Frequently Should I Reapply Sunblock?

Sunscreen should be worn everyday. When spending time outdoors, reapply at least every two hours or immediately after swimming or sweating.


How Does Sunblock Work?

Sunblock works by using a combination of physical and chemical particles to block and absorb UV rays. According to Yale Scientific, “Physical particles, such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, are used to reflect UV radiation from the skin. At the same time, complex chemical ingredients in sunscreen react with radiation before it penetrates the skin, absorbing the rays and releasing the energy as heat.”


Will Sunblock Clog My Pores?

Dermatologists say that sunscreen can clog your pores and lead to blemishes. However, some newer “lighter” formulations of sunblock can help with this.


When Should I Apply Sunblock?

It is best to apply sunblock at least 30 minutes before going outside.


How Much Sunblock Should I Apply?

Experts recommend applying a nickel-size dollop of sunscreen to your face and/or two ounces of sunscreen, or the equivalent of a shot glass, to your face and body.


Remember that sunscreen is an important part of a complete line of sun protection and defense. For more summertime sun safety tips from the GLRCC team, click here.