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13th Jun 2023

The SPF suss: what factor, what kind, and why bother?


Be SPF savvy!

We can only assume you’ve been outside this week, but if you aren’t aware, we’ve had quite a bit of nice weather.

Over the last few weeks, the country has gone from parts of the Arctic to Costa Del Dublin overnight.

And as glorious as the sun may be, we have to be smart.

It is tempting to strip off and lie outside for hours, getting your tan on – but safety first, please.

This week (and every week in my opinion), suncream is your best friend.

I genuinely cannot tell you how important an SPF is.

But I know a lot of people who are wearing the wrong SPF, or just don’t see the point.

So here I come, to help with all your SPF needs.


Firstly, why do I need to wear SPF?

So, naturally the main reason to wear SPF is to reduce your chances of getting skin cancer.

According to The Irish Cancer Society, “skin cancer is the most common cancer in Ireland.”

“Most cases are caused by UV rays from the sun.”

Over exposure to UV rays, which leads to tanning, redness or burning of the skin, damages the skin cells.

A lot of the damage repairs itself, but some can remain, and can lead to skin cancer. Wearing an SPF every day (yes, even in the winter) can protect you from harmful UV rays.

Another reason to wear suncream? Wrinkles.

UV rays can cause sun damage, which will result in your skin ageing quicker. You may wind up with wrinkles, sun spots and blemishes sooner than you’d like.


What does the SPF number mean?

That brings me on to SPF, and the numbers we choose.

I think we all just go for high SPF if we’re pale, and low if we’re tanned – but that’s not really the science behind it.

The SPF number tells you how long the sun’s UV rays would take to redden your skin when using the product exactly as directed versus the amount of time without any sunscreen.

Basically, with factor 30 it would take you 30 times longer to burn than if you weren’t wearing sunscreen.

You with me?

So an SPF 50 isn’t actually stronger then an SPF 25, it just means your skin will take longer to burn.

Every day is a school day.


What factor should I be wearing? 

So, I would more interested in other details, rather than a factor.

If you’re on holiday, try to ensure your suncream is water resistant.

However, even if it is water resistant, the key is to constantly reapply.

The Irish Cancer Society recommends applying your suncream every two hours.

“For the average adult you will need 35mls of sunscreen to cover the whole body. We recommend using a measure of half a teaspoon of sunscreen to cover each arm, the face, neck and ears. Use a measure of one teaspoon for each leg, the front and the back of the body.”

Be smart ladies! Wear your suncream, and enjoy the sun.


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