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How to Select an SPF Sunscreen

Posted by PK Safety Team on Jun 29th 2021

How to Select an SPF Sunscreen

Summer is here, which means longer days and more time outside. Whether you’re working or playing, staying protected from the heat and sun will keep you comfortable and safe from the effects of heat-related illnesses and sun damage, which can include potential skin cancer. Summer skin protection means seeking shade (especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.), wearing protective clothing like wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses, and proper application of the right sunscreen.

Many sunscreens block the UVA rays that contribute to skin cancer and premature aging and the UVB rays that can cause sunburns and skin cancers. Before you buy, look for a label that says the sunscreen offers “broad spectrum” protection, which means that it passed a test proving it protects against UVA and UVB rays: any products that don’t must have a warning that they protect against sunburn but not skin cancer or aging.

The most protective sunscreens will have a sun protection factor or an SPF of 30 or more. The number represents the amount of protection the sunscreen will provide against UVB rays, which means the higher the number the more protection. However, the difference becomes smaller the higher you go: you might not need 100, but you do need at least 30. Any sunscreen with an SPF lower than 15 also needs to warn that it protects against sunburn but not cancer or aging.

Finally, your sunscreen should also say “water resistant” or “very water resistant” and specify whether it lasts for 40 or 80 minutes while swimming or sweating. No sunscreens are completely waterproof or sweatproof (and can’t claim to be) and usually rub off when you towel yourself dry, so make sure you reapply at least every two hours for maximum protection from the sun’s rays. About one ounce of sunscreen is enough to cover the exposed areas of your body. Protective clothing will add an extra layer of defense against the sun, or cover areas you can't get to easily for reapplication.

Do you need summer skin protection recommendations? For more information on products or worksite safety information, contact a PK Safety expert online or by phone at 800.829.9580.