Even if you have never purchased men’s sunscreen before, if you’re over the age of…say…12, there’s a good chance you’ve heard the term “SPF.” You may not know exactly what those letters stand for or what they mean, but that’s about to change.
While Jacket men’s sunscreen was created for retail purposes — full transparency…yes, the goal is to make money — it was also designed as part of a much larger and far more important initiative: To raise awareness for and about the importance of sun protection.
Although the sun is beautiful and absolutely essential for life, it also has the ability to be extremely dangerous. Those ultraviolet rays that provide the heat, light and energy needed for survival also have an adverse effect on our skin and bodies.
The sun emits two types of ultraviolet rays that are particularly harmful to the human body, especially our skin. They are UVA and UVB rays.
To understand the importance of SPF in men’s sunscreen, it’s best to know what each of these rays are and the negative effect they have on our health.
The most often “felt” and “seen” of the sun’s ultraviolet rays are UVB. These are the rays that alter the skin’s DNA and result in color changes and sunburns. Because of the effect they have on DNA, there is also a tremendous link between UVB rays and the development of skin cancer.
UVB rays are also used in tanning beds.
UVBs are so powerful that they are capable of burning the skin in less than 15 minutes. Also, UVB rays are ever-present and penetrate windows and other clear objects. For that reason, dermatologists and other medical professionals recommend including men’s sunscreen in your daily skin and personal care routine.
We will dive deeper into SPF in a moment, but since we’re on the subject, if you are not planning to be in direct sunlight for an extended period of time but will have some exposure and want to use a daily men’s sunscreen, a minimum SPF of 15 is suggested.
The second type of ultraviolet rays that you need to be conscious of are UVA rays. Whereas UVA rays affect only the skin’s surface layer, these rays penetrate deeper beneath the skin’s surface and contribute to signs of premature aging such as wrinkles and sun spots.
Historically, the assumption was that while UVA rays could cause physical cosmetic alterations and damage, they did not present any health concerns. The World Health Organization is now taking another look at that assessment asnf indicating that there may be a connection between UVA exposure and the development of skin cancer.
UVA rays are the most prevalent, and make up about 95% of the harmful ultraviolet rays that
we come in contact with each day.
To help combat the risks and dangers associated with sun exposure, men’s sunscreen and other protectants have been created and introduced over the years. To help consumers and users better understand how effective men’s sunscreens and other products are when it comes to reducing the risk of sun damage, a rating — or index — called Sun Protection Factor (or SPF) was established. SPF, as the name suggests, measures and communicates how much of the sun’s harmful rays are blocked from reaching your skin.
It’s important to note that, as previously mentioned, there are two kinds of harmful ultraviolet rays (well, there are actually three, but UVC rays are a non-factor as they do not reach the Earth’s surface). Be sure any sunscreen you purchase and use is Broad Spectrum. This means it protects against both UVA and UVB rays. If your product is not Broad Spectrum it only helps block UVB rays. So, while they will help you avoid sunburns and minimize your risk of skin cancer, they do not shield against premature aging and other damage caused by UVA rays.
So what, exactly, does Sun Protection Factor mean? Many people believe that the SPF rating is a multiple of the amount of time you would have to spend in the sun in order to receive the same damage. For example, if you were in the sun for 10 minutes and didn’t wear any men’s sunscreen, you would have to be in the sun for 15 times longer — or 150 minutes — to get the same level of exposure.
While that conversion can be used as a general rule of thumb, it is a very loose estimate and certainly not scientific in any way.
Sun Protection Factor, or SPF, actually measures the percentage of the sun’s rays that are blocked or repelled by a product. Let’s preface this by saying there are no sunscreens that have the ability to protect against 100% of the sun’s ultraviolet rays. However, a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 blocks 93% of ultraviolet rays, while a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 blocks 97%. As you can obviously tell, doubling the SPF does not mean you are getting double the protection. So it only offers 4% more protection?!?!
To REALLY understand what that means and to calculate the benefit, let’s examine what this actually means.
The reason ultraviolet rays cause damage is because they deposit radiation into your skin. So, if you were to go on the sun for a period of time without applying any sunscreen, all of the sun’s photon light energy (radiation) would reach your skin.
Just to keep the math simple, let’s say there are 100 photons in the sun. Without sunscreen, that’s 100 photons that would travel from the sun to your skin via ultraviolet rays. Using this same model, wearing a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 would block 93% of those photons, exposing you to only 7 and greatly reducing your risk of danger. A sunscreen with an SPF of 30 would block 97% of the photons, allowing only three to reach and penetrate your skin.
An SPF of 50 actually protects against 98% of the sun’s ultraviolet rays and photons, meaning only 2% of the sun’s photons (or two) would make contact with your skin when wearing a sunscreen with 50 SPF, such as Jacket. For this reason, dermatologists recommend applying sunscreen with an SPF of between 15 and 30 if you are going to be spending any extended amount of time outdoors.
You’ve likely noticed that there are sunscreens on the market with SPFs of higher than 50. While there is nothing wrong with those, don’t be fooled by the higher numbers. Any additional protection, if there is any, is negligible and immeasurable.
So, when it comes to SPF and sunscreen, now you know your ABCs. And don’t forget your Jacket.