Sunscreen Guide: What is SPF, how and when to use

Everyone is already tired of knowing the importance of keeping their skin protected from the sun, isn’t it?

This is because the rays emitted by the sun are harmful to our skin, and can accelerate premature aging, or even cause skin cancer .

Contrary to what many people think, skin cancer is a reality in Brazil, with the type of cancer that is most present in the country skyrocketing.

That is why the use of sunscreen is indispensable whenever there is exposure to “outdoors”, that is, even on cloudy days, or even on rainy days, it is important to stay protected.


What is sunscreen?

Sunscreen is the substance capable of protecting your skin from damage caused by the sun’s ultraviolet rays. This damage may be visible, such as premature aging of the skin, or even non-visible, such as skin cancer itself.

They are divided into 2 groups:

Chemical protectors

Basically, chemical sunscreens protect you by absorbing ultraviolet rays . This is because, in its composition, there are molecules capable of absorbing ultraviolet radiation, which is highly energetic, and transforming it into low energy radiation.

With this, as soon as the UV rays come into contact with your skin, the chemical protector reacts, creating a protection in your skin. In this way, radiation penetration is prevented.

Physical protectors

The physical or inorganic sunscreen has titanium dioxide and zinc oxide in its composition, minerals that are on the skin, but are not absorbed by it. The moment the sun’s rays come into contact with it, they are reflected by the layer that the physical filter made.

Thus, this type of filter is suitable for children, pregnant women or people who have allergies, since the protector does not mix with the skin.

Which protector should I choose

Both types of sunscreens will protect you from the sun’s rays just as effectively. However, if you do not have any allergic restrictions, you are not a child or pregnant woman, it is recommended that you choose to use the chemical protector.

However, the ideal is always to consult a dermatologist, because only he will be able to evaluate the peculiarities of your skin and recommend the most suitable.

What are UVA and UVB rays?

The types of UV rays, although they represent only 5% of the solar rays that reach the Earth, are able to cross the ozone layer, reaching the ground.

However, UV rays, which are divided into UVA and UVB, do not have the same effects on the skin. Check out the different impacts:


UVA rays are able to pass through clouds, glass and even the epidermis. When they penetrate the skin, they reach the dermis cells, as they have a high penetrating power.

With this, in the long run, UVA rays can cause:

  • Pigmentary disorders (chloasma, pigmented spots);
  • Developments of cutaneous tumors.


Radiation is able to modify the orientation of collagen fibers, thus relaxation and loss of firmness of the skin, in addition to the appearance of wrinkles.

Solar intolerances

UVA rays can promote some symptoms of solar allergies, the most common are: redness, itching and summer lucitis.


Representing only 5% of UV rays, the UVB ray can be retained by clouds and glass, but it still reaches the epidermis.

On the contrary, from the UVA ray, UVBs can be painful and are responsible for both tanning, burns, sunbathing and scalds. In addition, it can also cause allergic reactions and skin tumors.

What is FPS?

The famous acronym that always appears in sunscreen means the “sun protection factor”. Therefore, the number that always appears in the sequence of this acronym refers to how much the product is protecting you from the sun’s rays.

What is the meaning of the numbers next to the FPS?

You certainly went to buy a sunscreen and wondered what those numbers mean: FPS15, FPS30, FPS50, FPS60 and so on.

These numbers indicate how long your skin will be protected from the sun’s rays.

The calculation to understand this time is simple: just multiply the SPF number by 10. The result will show how many minutes your skin will be protected.

For example: multiplying SPF15 by 10, the protection would be 2 and a half hours (150 minutes).

However, it is worth mentioning that the protection offered by the FPS tends to decrease as time goes by and, also, when it comes in contact with water and sand. So, reapplication of the protector should happen frequently.

The big question: FPS30 x FPS60

With the calculation taught above, it is possible to realize that the FPS30 protects much more than the FPS15. That is why dermatologists claim that, regardless of your skin type, the SPF30 should be used by everyone, including those who have black skins.

However, it seems that the protection factors above the SPF30 are no longer as efficient. Like this? Calm down, let’s explain.

With the SPF30, according to the calculation used, your skin will be protected for approximately 5 hours. However, it is also recommended by experts that the application of sunscreens occurs every 2 hours.

So, using FPS60 would not make much difference, because with much less than half the protection time, it would be necessary to reapply it.

However, studies show that people use the sunscreen, regardless of the SPF, in the wrong way. This is because the amount that should be applied to the face, for example, is the equivalent of 1 coffee spoon. However, people tend to use only ⅓ of that amount.

Despite this, it is clear that, for people who are very forgetful, are lazy, or will not have access to reapply throughout the day, the most suitable are the highest protection factors, really.

However, there are still significant differences between them. Protectors with a larger sunscreen filter tend to have a higher concentration of compounds, responsible for ensuring a better fixation on the skin. So, even after swimming in the sea or sweating, your skin is still protected.

In addition, research shows that the higher the SPF, the more it will absorb the rays emitted by the sun and, consequently, will further protect your skin. Check out:

Solar protection factor (SPF)Percentage of sunlight absorption

Although the difference is small, the percentage of absorption that each of them provides can be crucial for people with fair skin who need something even more efficient.

How and when to apply the sunscreen?

Although it seems like a silly question and a simple activity, many people misuse the sunscreen and, as a result, are not properly protected.

The sunscreen takes between 20 and 30 minutes to be absorbed by the skin and then start to take effect. Therefore, you need to pass it before coming into contact with the sun, otherwise, no matter how much the product is already on your skin, it will not be protecting you against all the damage that the sun’s rays can cause.

Another very common mistake, especially when people go to the beach or pool, is to put on a bathing suit and only then start ironing the product. The correct way is to apply the sunscreen and only then put on your clothes. This practice prevents you from forgetting to pass the product on some region of your body

Do I need to wear a protector when I am under the umbrella?

Another mistake, quite recurrent, happens when people believe that they do not need to protect themselves from ultraviolet rays, when you are sheltered under the parasol.

However, although the parasol brings a feeling of greater comfort, as the sun does not come into direct contact with the body, it is not able to block all the sun’s rays and even offers, at most, an SPF8.

In addition, the sand is able to reflect the sun’s rays, that is, even if you are sheltered under the parasol, you will continue to receive radiation directly and indirectly with the reflection.

Where and how much sunscreen should I use?

Another very frequent question is about which region the protector should be applied to, as well as the amount of product that must be applied.

The ideal is that the whole body is protected, because the sun’s rays come into contact with the skin of the different regions of the body, in the same way. However, as the face is certainly the part of our body that is most directly exposed, the attention in this area should be even greater.

See how care should be taken when applying the product:

In the face

The ideal amount of product that should be applied to the face and neck is equivalent to a full teaspoon, which should be applied evenly. However, some regions deserve even more attention, as they have a greater tendency to develop spots or even cancer. Are they:

  • Hair root;
  • Ears;
  • Neck;
  • Nut;
  • Cheek bones;
  • Around the lips;
  • Tip of the nose.

In the hands

Just like the face, the hands also spend a lot of time exposed, so they deserve the same care as the face. A teaspoon should be applied to each hand. And it is always good to remember that every time your hands are washed, it is important to reapply the sunscreen.

On body

In the rest of the body, the amount to be applied corresponds to a full coffee spoon, on the trunk and back, in each of them. Your arms and legs will need 2 spoons of coffee, one for each arm and 4 spoons of coffee, with each leg needing 2 spoons, one for the front and one for the back.

SPF and skin tone

The subject is quite controversial, because when it comes to the different skin tones, the protection factor is again very important.

As already mentioned above, regardless of your skin tone, the minimum factor to be used is the SPF30, but this number will increase as your skin becomes lighter.


No skin should use only SPF15. Many makeups come with this protection factor, but using only it is not synonymous with protected skin, quite the contrary.

Products used on a daily basis with SPF15 can be:

  • Nupill Anti-Wrinkle Facial Moisturizing Cream ;
  • Super BB Cream Maybelline.


People with black skin must protect themselves with this protective factor.

The presence of melanin, despite protecting against solar radiation, makes it easier to stain the skin. Therefore, daily protection is also essential!

Exposures that occur on a daily basis, which are shorter and less intense, can also be protected with the SPF30, even by more brown and clear skins.

Examples of products with this protection factor are:

  • L’Oréal Expertise Supreme Protect 4 Sunscreen
  • Nivea Sun Protect & Bronze Sunscreen

FPS50 or +

Lighter skins must use higher protection factors, which is why, for them, the most suitable is an SPF50 or even higher.

Always remembering not to exceed the reapplication period, which must be done every 2 hours.

Some sunscreens with SPF50 or more are:

  • Protetor Solar Sun Fresh Neutrogena;
  • Sundown Sunscreen .

In addition to the FPS

Contrary to what many people believe, the presence of the acronym FPS30 alone is not enough to guarantee that the sunscreen will protect you.

When purchasing the protector, you should also look for the components: titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. These two components are light reflectors, including UVA and UVB radiation, which are the rays emitted by the sun.

In addition, the two elements are the best option, as they do not contain other chemical components and can be found in sunscreens with SPF from 30 onwards.


Another acronym as important as FPS is PPD, an acronym in English ( Persistent Pigment Darkening ) that should be translated as something equivalent to Persistent Pigment Darkening.

PPD is responsible for protecting your skin from the incidence of UVA rays, which in turn is ultraviolet radiation characterized by promoting skin darkening and photoaging. This is because it is able to penetrate the skin so deeply that it damages the collagen fibers.

Thus, when choosing the sunscreen, also pay attention to the PPD value, which must be at least ⅓ of the indicated value of the SPF. Understand better with an example:

If a protector has an SPF30 indication, for the “Persistent Pigment Darkening” to be effective, it must be at least PPD10.

Other forms of protection

It is very wrong to believe that sunscreen is the only care that we must implement to keep our skin healthy. The use of accessories that block the sun is very important! Don’t you know what they are? Calm you know them all:

  • Sunglasses (with sunscreen);
  • Abas;
  • Cap;
  • Visor.

In addition, avoiding exposure to the sun between 10 am and 4 pm is also a way to protect your skin, as well as sheltering in fabric tents, as they reflect the sun’s rays and minimize exposure.

Tips on how to use sunscreen every day

Now that you know everything about sunscreen and are more than aware of its importance, we end by giving you some tips for you not to fail and use it continuously.

That’s because we know that in the rush of everyday life, everything becomes an excuse for you to simply not pass the protector, right?

So, check out the tips here so you can protect yourself in the right way every day:

Oiliness in the hair

Many people complain or fail to apply the protector close to the hair root, close to the forehead, because they claim that the hair becomes oily. And in fact, with sunscreen in lotion, it can happen. But a great alternative for this region is to use powdered sunscreens.

In addition to protecting yourself, you already enjoy and matifies the skin! After all, no one wants to have aging marks on their foreheads, do they?

Makeup x Sunscreen

Another very common complaint that results in many women not wearing sunscreen is the fact that they do not want or do not have time to redo their makeup each time they reapply sunscreen. But who said that this is the only possible alternative?

There are protectors that are specific to be used over makeup and that is why they are super thin and colorless. So, you can apply the common lotion before doing the makeup, and keep the protection with this thinner. Wonderful, right?

Burning eyes

Despite being a very relevant question, after all the eyes are very sensitive, you don’t have to stop protecting yourself for fear that your eyes will burn, right?

This burning sensation occurs, because when applying the lotion-shaped sunscreen, after a while it may start to run off the forehead or even around it and migrate to the eyes. Therefore, the solution is quite simple.

Try to use protectors in the shape of a stick or even powder on your face, so it will not run and bring discomfort to your eyes. However, even so, it is necessary to take some precautions such as not rubbing, as the region is very sensitive.

Oiliness on the skin

One of the most classic complaints is that sunscreens make oily skin even more oily and drought also becomes oily. This effect is intensified on hot days, when perspiration gets even greater and the protector seems to actually melt on the skin.

To avoid this discomfort, the ideal is always to opt for lighter protectors, which have a fine texture and velvety touch, in addition to a matte effect that helps to absorb oiliness.

Sensitive skin

Some people who have very sensitive skin suffer when applying sunscreen and therefore end up not using it, which is a mistake, because sensitive skin can suffer even more from sun damage.

Some sunscreens contain milder ingredients in their composition: this is the case with mineral sunscreens that have less tincture and are based on zinc. Thus, they prevent the skin from becoming red or with a burning sensation.

Physical activity, sweat and protector

The practice of exercises promotes perspiration and, if you have a very light protector, it will start to melt as soon as you start to sweat.

So it is important to use waterproof protectors when exercising outdoors, as they last longer on the skin and will not melt so easily.

Even being able to distinguish your skin tone and then, theoretically, being able to choose which level of protection factor you should use, consultation with the dermatologist is essential. Only that professional will be able to really indicate which is the best SPF for your skin’s characteristics.