Sun Protection Guide

While most of us don't hesitate to apply sunscreen during the vacations or on the sunniest days of summer, having a jar of sunscreen on hand in the winter may seem strange.

But is it really necessary to use sun protection all year round, and why should you?

According to the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, unfortunately very few people know how sunscreens work, and are unwittingly exposed to skin damage.

Luckily, we're here to help. We'll explain what sun protection factor is and how it works. We'll also explain which sun factor is right for your skin type. That way you'll have a good idea of how to protect your skin during the hot summer months.

In this article you will discover:

What is the sun protection factor
What does the sun protection factor number mean
The different types of sunscreens
What effect does it have on the skin.
What factor should you use
Which one is better
If you need sun protection in winter
Sun protection and Vitamin D

What is FPS?

SPF stands for "Sun Protection Factor". The SPF measures the level of protection against ultraviolet rays of sun creams.

Sunlight produces two types of rays, UVB and UVA.

UVA rays are also harmful. Make sure your sunscreen protects against both UVB and UVA rays. UVA protection is usually indicated by a star rating system.

Of the two types, UVB rays are the most damaging to the skin, and are the ones that cause burns. They play a major role in the development of skin cancer, including the fatal malignant melanoma.

In turn, UVA rays can also contribute to the development of skin cancer. They penetrate the skin more deeply and play a greater role in premature skin aging and the appearance of wrinkles.

There are 500 times more UVA rays than UVB rays in the sun's rays, so it is important that you choose a sunscreen product that protects you from both.

The longer you are exposed to unprotected sunlight, the greater the risk of sunburn.


Why use SPF?

If you spend a lot of time outdoors - for example if you work outdoors - you should use factor 30 or higher, and it should also be water-resistant. And don't forget to apply several times during the day.

Whatever the factor of your sunscreen, whether you sweat or not, it is important to reapply, ideally every two hours, to make sure your skin is properly protected.

What does the number in the FPS mean?

The number you see on your lotion, gel, spray or sunscreen indicates the level of protection they offer.

For example, factor 2 offers the lowest protection against UVB rays, and SPF 50+ offers the highest protection.

This number has no relation to how long you can stay in the sun.

Indicates the difference between how long it would take for the skin to turn red with protection compared to how long it would take without applying protection.

The SPF number is calculated based on a formula - dividing the number of seconds it would take for the skin to start turning red with sunscreen, divided by the number of seconds it would take without using protection.

For example, if it takes 300 seconds to burn the skin with sunscreen, and 10 seconds without sunscreen. 300 is divided by 10, equal to 30, i.e. SPF 30.

While we all pay attention to the FPS number, star ratings are also important.

This rating shows the amount of protection against UVA rays, and goes up to 5 stars, which would be the highest level of protection.

UVA rays affect the skin more profoundly than UVB rays and are a determining factor in the appearance of wrinkles.

Choose a sunscreen that is comprehensive and offers protection for both UVB and UVA rays.


How long does it take for the skin to burn?

Weather, atmospheric conditions and your skin type determine how long it takes to burn. However, for most people, five to thirty minutes is enough for the damage to appear.

Other factors that influence this time can be humidity, sweating, whether you are bathing or the clothes you are wearing.

Different FPS levels

Sun creams offer greater or lesser protection depending on their level, and are classified into four categories according to their protection.

The categories are:

Low Protection (SPF 4, 6, 8 and 10)
Medium Protection (SPF 15, 20 and 25)
High Protection (SPF 30, 40 and 50)
Very High Protection (SPF 50+)

What does SPF offer your skin?

SPF creates a barrier between the skin and the sun's UVA and UVB rays.

Some contain inorganic chemicals, such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which act as a physical barrier. They reflect UV rays in the same way as, for example, white paint reflects light.

Sunscreens also contain organics such as avobenzone or oxybenzone. Instead of reflecting UV light, these molecules absorb UV radiation through chemical reactions.

By reacting with and absorbing UV radiation, the sunscreen components break down and release heat.


Factor 2 offers the least protection against UVB rays, while factor 50+ offers the most protection.
The number does not indicate how long you can stay in the sun.
Indicates how long it would take for the skin to burn with protection compared to without protection.

How to choose the number of FPS?

Most people should use at least a medium or high level of sun protection. People with lighter skin and when the sun is very strong (as at the beach, for example) should use protection with a very high SPF.

If you have very fair skin and it turns red after spending only a few minutes in the sun, then you should use a sunscreen of no less than factor 50, and also consider protection for your head (at least a hat!).

It is highly recommended to use at least factor 50 for children and babies, especially if their skin tone is light.

If you are fair-skinned but are on a mission to tan, then start with a high SPF and gradually reduce it.

That way your skin will get used to the effects of the sun in a safer way, since the tanning process is nothing more than your skin's self-protection mechanism.

Different types of sunscreen

The types of sunscreen available can be:

Mineral type sunscreen (they are composed of natural ingredients and do not harm the coral reef).
In cream or ointment.
In spray or mist.
Broad spectrum (they protect against both UVA and UVB rays).

Which one should I use?

Searching for a sunscreen among the whole range available on the market can be dizzying, especially if you have to take into account the sun factor, the UV category, the type of product, the brand, the opinion of other consumers, etc...

It is important that you inform yourself before buying your sunscreen, as it plays a very important role in keeping your skin as protected as possible.

Just as you take into account your skin type (normal, dry, sensitive, oily or a combination of these) when choosing your face creams, so too should you choose your sunscreen.

SPF for oily skin
A moisturizer that contains SPF but does not block skin pores would be your best choice.

Many high SPF sunscreens tend to have a fairly thick consistency, and this makes your skin saturated and sticky.

This is not suitable if you have oily skin type, as the pores tend to be prone to clogging more easily.

Try to find: Oil-free creams, gels, sprays or lotions that won't leave your skin oily or congested. 

2. SPF for sensitive skin

SPFs that do not contain certain ingredients, particularly benzophenones that can irritate the skin, are ideal for people with sensitive skin.

They are also not recommended if they contain alcohol, as they can affect the skin. If you have extremely sensitive skin, it is best to choose a mineral powder sunscreen. It is applied to the skin and is very gentle on it.

Try to find: Lightweight Very light or powder sunscreens that contain few ingredients (ideally minerals) and no perfumes.

3. SPF for dry skin

Choose light SPFs that also act as a moisturizing cream or serum. This way they work together to moisturize and protect from the sun.

This type of cream also tends to last longer on the skin.

Try to find: Serums with SPF that offer increased hydration.

4. SPF for combination or combination skins

Use a light SPF that offers protection without saturating pores while providing some hydration.

Try to find: Gel SPFs that are not too viscous but offer a due level of hydration.

5. SPF for eyes and lips

Just as there are facial creams and moisturizers with SPF, there are also specific products to protect your eyelids, lips and hands from the sun.

Try to find: Lip balms, eye and hand cream with SPF that have been specially formulated to protect while caring for such especially delicate areas of skin.

6. SPF for dark skin

Even if you have dark skin you should still use SPF, as your skin can still burn and suffer sun damage, although not as quickly as people with lighter skin.

Choose a product with medium or low protection.

While the most popular choice is chemical-based products, mineral-based products are increasingly being adapted to all skin tones.

Try to find: Factor 30 with good absorption, and if you want it in a dark shade that is similar to your skin tone.

7. SPF for pale skin

If your skin color is very light you need a high SPF protection as your skin will burn much faster.

Fortunately, mineral sunscreens leave less of a mark on the skin, making them a very valid option.

Try to find: Sunscreens, either chemical or mineral, but always have at least SPF 50.

An aside:

Don't forget that you can also find foundation with SPF, although they usually have a very low protection factor, so you may need to use sunscreen to increase skin protection.


Which FPS is better?

A sunscreen with a four-star UVA rating and SPF 15 is recommended for most people, however this may change depending on skin type.

To increase hydration, people with dry skin should opt for sunscreens in cream or gel form.

If your skin type is oily, oil-free sunscreens will protect you without damaging pores.

Oil-free, fragrance-free and hypoallergenic mineral products are ideal for people with sensitive skin, as they contain fewer chemicals.

How to use SPF?

Choosing the right sunscreen is one thing, but using it properly is just as important.

1. How much to use

If you are going to have a large part of your body exposed to the sun you will need an adequate amount of product to protect the whole body - for example the size of a tablespoon for each arm, leg, torso and back.

For the face and neck you will need at least the equivalent of half a tablespoon. Be sure to apply evenly so that no areas are left unprotected. 

2. When to apply it

If you are going to use other products such as lotions or moisturizers, make sure that the sunscreen is the last one you apply to your skin. If it is a mineral sunscreen you can go directly into the sun after applying it, but if it is a chemical sunscreen you should wait 15 to 30 minutes for it to be absorbed by the skin.

And it is very important to reapply every two hours or after a bath.

3. What ingredients can you combine it with

It is not advisable to create your own sunscreen by combining other products, as it may decrease the protective efficacy.

It is very important to always use SPF if you use retinol, Vitamin C skin products, benzoyl peroxide or AHA/BHA acids.

Is sunscreen needed in winter?

Even if it's cold outside and summer is over, you are still at risk of getting burned, even on cloudy days.

In winter, the sun's rays reflected off snow, sand or water intensify UV exposure.

Unless you spend a lot of time in the winter sun, a moisturizer with SPF is sufficient to protect you from UV rays for short periods of exposure.

Sun creams are more suitable for long exposures, such as spending an hour or more in the sun.

Can wearing sunscreen all year round cause vitamin D deficiency?

Vitamin D is produced by our body when sunlight hits the skin.

However, it is important to protect the skin from the harmful effects of the sun.

A diet rich in oily fish, eggs, or even supplementation can ensure healthy vitamin D levels.


Even on cloudy days you can get sunburned
SPF should not be used only in summer
Protecting yourself from the sun is very important, as well as ensuring good vitamin D absorption
What ingredients enhance the effectiveness of SPF?

There are a few ingredients in skin care products that can help increase SPF protection. These include vitamins C and E and ferulic acid, which have been shown to offer protection against sun damage through infrared radiation.

A last word about the FPS...

Just as you couldn't go without your favorite lipstick or mascara, the same should apply to your SPF - it's key to the health of your skin and should never be skipped.

Best of all, there are many types of sun protection available.

There are not only for each specific skin type, but also available in different formats so that you can choose the one that suits you best, e.g. gels, minerals, serums, make-up, moisturizers, etc.

Always add SPF to your daily skin care, and make it a routine.

Our sun protection products

The advice given in this article is for informational purposes only, and should never replace medical care. Consult your physician before using any supplement, treatment or remedy. Dietary supplements should not be used as a substitute for a balanced and varied diet and a healthy lifestyle.