What SPF Sunscreen Should You Utilize

May 7, 2022
Sun Protection Factor (SPF): Which sunscreen should I utilize

We all pursue a tanned complexion. But beware, exposing yourself for long hours does not only have advantages. Skin aging and skin cancers do not only occur to others. 

How to save yourself from it? Between SPF 30, 50, high index, SPF or UV radiation… So many periods that make us dizzy, so which sun protection to pick?

Understanding the sun protection factor

The protection index (IP), also called Sun Protection Factor (SPF) or SPF (Sun Protection Factor) by our friends across the Atlantic, indicates the level of protection against UV rays, in other words, ultraviolet rays. 

This protection is expressed in the form of a numerical index (6, 10, 15, 20, 30, 40, 50, and 50), which must be displayed on all products. The higher it is, the stronger the sun protection.

Warning: Just because the index is lower does not mean that you will tan faster. It does not affect your skin’s ability to tan in any way. It simply protects you from UV damage.

Do organic sunscreen products exist? Know that these are synthetic filters that are traditionally used but there are mineral sunscreens, used in organic sunscreens in particular.

Our organic favorite: Lavera Sensitive Sun Cream SPF 30

How to choose your solar index?

The different indices can be classified into 4 categories:

  • SPF 50 and more = very high protection.

Anthelios XL – Invisible Nourishing Oil SPF 50 – La Roche-Posay, 20€

UVA/UVB 50 Safety Milk-Fluid Sun Spray – Clarins, €29.50

  • SPF between 30 to 50 = high protection.

Invisible Sun Mist SPF 30 – Bioderma, €16.50

Solar amber Dry mist SPF 30 – Garnier, 12€

  • SPF between 15, 20 and 25 = average protection. Present in BB creams for example.

Silky Tanning Sublime SPF 15 – Lancaste, 35€

Milky Face and Body Spray SPF 20 – Nuxe, €19.95

Shimmer Effect SPF 25 – Hawaiian Tropic, 12€

  • SPF between 6 and 10 = low protection. This type of protection is generally present in foundations and day creams and protects the skin in the event of low sunlight during the day.

Tanning Oil Face and Body Low Protection SPF 10 – Nuxe, 20,95€

Protective Sun Oil Spray – Hawaiian Tropic, 12€

Two criteria must be taken into account when choosing your index: your skin’s sensitivity to the sun (called phototype) and sun exposure.

The phototype

The phototype refers to a classification of skin types according to their sensitivity to UV radiation. There are 6 phototypes, corresponding to 6 skin types determined according to skin color, hair color, eyes, the presence of freckles, and the ability to get sunburn or tan. 

The lower the phototype, the more the person must protect themselves from the sun.

First, you need to know which phototype you correspond to:

Phototype I: if you are sensitive to the sun, have very white or milky skin, blond or red hair, light eyes, lots of freckles, always get a sunburn, and never tan.

  • a cream with an index of 15 to 30 must be used daily
  • a cream with an index of at least 50 (or even higher) for outdoor activity: hiking in the mountains, on the beach, or in the tropics.

Phototype II: if you have very light skin, blond or brown hair, light eyes, and lots of freckles, you often get sunburn and have difficulty getting a tan.

  • medium protection (SPF 15, 20, or 25) for daily exposure.
  • high protection (SPF 30 or 50) for significant exposure.
  • very high protection (SPF 50) for extreme exposure.

Phototype III: if you have so-called “intermediate” skin (between light and dark), blond or brown hair, brown eyes, and a few freckles that appear in the sun, you get sunburn but gradually tan.

  • a cream with a low index of 6 to 15 is necessary on a daily basis.
  • an index of 15 to 30 will be recommended for outdoor activities.
  • an index between 30 and 50 (or even more) for holidays and long exposures.

Phototype IV: if you have dark skin, chestnut or brown hair, dark eyes, and no freckles, you only get a few sunburns and always tan dark.

  • low protection is perfect for everyday activities,
  • with an index ranging from 15 to 30 for outdoor activities and holidays in the mountains or by the sea.
  • an index greater than 30 for long exposure to the sun

Phototype V: if you have dark skin, black hair, black eyes, and no freckles, you rarely get sunburn and you always tan very dark.

  • daily cream with a low index for daily use: between 6 and 10
  • a sunscreen of at least 30 for long exposure because there is still a risk of skin cancer.

Phototype VI: if you have black skin, black hair, black eyes, and no freckles, you never get sunburn.

  • low protection (SPF 6 and 10) will suffice for daily, moderate, and heavy exposures.
  • medium protection (between SPF 15 and 30) is recommended to reduce the risk of cancer and the aging of your skin.

Sun exposure power

The choice of protection index also varies according to the type of exposure to the sun: the greater the exposure, the higher the protection index must be.

Moderate exposure: walk in the park with your children, lunches on the terrace…

Significant exposure: gardening, long outdoor activities, outdoor sports…

Extreme exposure: day at the beach, vacation in the tropics or hiking in the mountains (the higher you go, the more dangerous the sun becomes).

Our latest tips for tanning while preserving your skin

  1. We avoid exposure between 12 p.m. and 4 p.m.: the sun is the strongest and most dangerous for the skin.
  2. We do not forget to spread the skin at least every two hours.
  3. Moreover, it is not because the indices are high, that you have to stay exposed longer
  4. Slip the bottle into your beach bag to stay hydrated.

With these instructions, you are ready to tan safely! And you, do you have any favorite products to recommend?

Photo: Pexels/ Mikhail Nilov

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Skincare · Suncare & Tanning

Margaud Raynaud is a beauty expert with over 10 years of experience in the industry. She has a passion for sharing her knowledge and tips with others and has a particular interest in skincare and makeup. When she's not writing about health and beauty, Margaud enjoys trying out new products and experimenting with different looks. Follow her blog for expert advice and inspiration for living your best life.

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