Vacation 101 - What is SPF?

Posted By Tiffany Hereda @ Jun 18th 2015 10:30am In: Informational


It is officially the start of summer and the beaches here in Myrtle Beach are filling up!  We want to make sure your vacation is amazing and an important part of that is bringing (and wearing!) the right sun protection.  I think we have all had that vacation where we get burned the first day – which pretty much ruins your trip.  Here are a few facts about sunscreen and tips to help ensure you enjoy your time at the beach.


DID YOU KNOW? SPF 30 is NOT twice as good as SPF 15.  SPF blocks approximately 93% of UVB rays where as SPF 30 blocks 97% and SPF 45 blocks about 98%.  So really, SPF 30 sunscreen only gives you 4% more protection than SPF 15.


SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and measures how well a sunscreen will protect your skin from UVB rays (a kind of radiation that causes sunburn).  But SPF does NOT tell you how well a sunscreen will protect your from UVA rays (linked to deeper skin damage).  There is no ratings scale for UVA protection but you should look for sunscreens with “broad spectrum” protection. 



  • Use at least SPF 15
  • Apply sunscreen ½ hour before going outside
  • Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours
  • Use the recommended amount or the protection will be significantly decreased
  • Use a water-resistant sunscreen and reapply after swimming
  • No matter what the SPF is, you need to reapply it often
  • Know your skin type to help determine coverage you need
  • Check your medications – some can make you more sensitive to the sun


DID YOU KNOW?  Natural factors can increase or decrease the impact of SPF such as elevation, location, time of year, time of day, amount of tan you already have and how long you stay in the sun.  


The higher the SPF number, the stronger the protection and longer you can stay outside.  To figure out how long you can stay outside with a level of SPF, use this equation: 


Minutes you take to burn without sunscreen x SPF # = Max sun exposure time


For example, it usually takes you 15 minutes to start burning when you are in the sun – so take 15 x 15 (for SPF 15) and you can stay in the sun for 225 min without burning.  However it is recommended that you reapply sunscreen at least every 2 hours.


We hope this helps clear up some of your questions about SPF and keeps you having fun in the sun this summer!


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