What's Your SPF?

by Lexy Lebsack

Sunscreen packaging was always a little confusing: what’s the difference between sunblock and sunscreen, waterproof and water-resistant, broad-spectrum and UVA/UVB protection? Not anymore! The FDA passed new guidelines in 2011 meaning you’ll notice new packaging rolling out on all sunscreen this year. Buzzwords like “sunblock,” “waterproof,” and “sweat-proof” are no more, instead you’ll see ‘water-resistant’ for solutions that stay on wet skin for either 40 or 80 minutes and ‘broad-spectrum’ on formulas meeting the highest protection levels of UVA and UVB rays. (UVB are the rays that burn skin, while UVA are the rays that age skin, in a nutshell; you need protection on both and should always look for ‘broad-spectrum’.) Sunscreens that don’t meet the higher UVA requirements will be dubbed ‘UVA/UVB protection’ only and you’ll now find warning labels about sun damage on anything under SPF 15, since new studies have shown that low SPFs prevent burns, but not skin cancer--a scary thought! No matter what formula, scent, or consistency you prefer, everything in the following slideshow is broad-spectrum and at least SPF 30--so sunbathe away!

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