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Unfortunately, the current system for calculating sun protection factor '(SPF) in sunscreens is far from perfect. It was originally developed to measure only the sun's burning properties. For example, if someone were to sit outside without any protection and become burnt after a minute, then a sunscreen with an SPF 15 would allow them to stay in the sun for 15 minutes before burning. This calculation is effective for protecting against burning, but as we now know, you don't have to burn to get skin damage since the USA rays don't burn.

You might have noticed that SPF is available in a vast range of numbers, starting as low as 4 and climbing as high as 45 (some European brands go as high as SPF 60). Some sun protection is better than no sun protection, but in my professional opinion, I would suggest that you stick to an SPF 30, which is known to absorb 97% of the suns ray.

In some parts of Europe, there is an entirely different system for measuring sun protection. If you pick up a sunscreen on holiday, you might notice that printed on the bottle is an IPD number, or Immediate Pigment Darkening. There's been a lot of controversy over how to properly measure UVA rays; but no matter how this is determined, it's important for the market to come to an agreement on how to achieve this. Currently, whenever you buy an American sunblock, there is nothing I hat tells you how much UVA protection you are receiving. For now, look for sunblocks containing Parsol 1789, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.


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