Kim Walls, M.S., Episencial:
SPF is an acronym for “Sun Protection Factor.” Sun protective products range from an SPF 2 to an SPF 60. The SPF factor refers to how much longer it will take the skin to burn with the specified SPF than it would take to burn with no protection at all.
For example, if your baby’s skin is very fair and would usually burn after 10 minutes in the sun and you use an SPF 15 product, it would take 2 and 1/2 hours (10 x 15 = 150 minutes) for the skin to burn. So, a higher SPF product provides longer lasting protection; however, you need to remember that the product wears off with sweat, water, clothing, food and so on.
Even if you use a product that technically offers your baby 3 or more hours of protection, you still need to reapply the product at least every 2 hours to be safe. Also keep in mind that an SPF 20, for example, will probably provide you longer lasting protection than it would for your baby as your baby’s skin is probably more fair than yours.
The difference between chemical and physical blocks is basically that light is either absorbed into the sunblock material or reflected away from the body back into the atmosphere similar to a mirror or tin foil. Chemical blocks absorb, physical blocks reflect.
- A Sunscreen is a product with an SPF of 2 and higher.
- A Sunblock is a product with a physical block and an SPF 12 or higher. Products often contain a mixture of physical and chemical block ingredients.
- A chemical block has the ability to be absorbed by the skin, sunlight is rendered invalid upon contact.
- A physical block sits on the skin’s surface and does not have the ability to be absorbed into the skin. Zinc and titanium are primarily physical mineral blocks. Physical blocks provide both UVA and UVB protection, and they are non-irritating as well as non-allergenic.
You might also like:
- Should I Use Sunscreen? (Did you know according to the FDA and the International Agency for Research on Cancer there’s no consensus on whether sunscreens prevent skin cancer? Learn why by reading this informative blog from Eco-Novice.)
- Understanding Sunscreen: Micronization and Nanoparticles
- From Sunscreen to Steel-Cut Oats: Keeping Your Skin Healthy From the Inside Out
Editor’s Note: This is part of our new Blog of the Week series where we ask our network of bloggers to write about a hot topic from our community and then we choose one awesome blog post to feature. Interested in participating? Sign-up to be a Healthy Child blogger.
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