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SPF 15 and SPF 30: Is There Really Much of a Difference?

By July 21, 2010

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What SPF level do you use?  When it comes to buying sunscreen for my family, I never pick anything under SPF 30.  It's just a number I feel comfortable with putting on my kids.  And according to Dermatologist, Dr. Carl Thornfeldt,  director of Episciences, Inc, SPF 30 is the minimum we should all be using.

Although there isn't a difference between the incidence of sun burns between SPF 15 and SPF 30, studies have shown that there is a 68 percent decrease in the abnormal -- or sunburned -- cells produced by the same light exposure.

"You should always reach for a minimum SPF 30." Thornfeldt says.

Dr. Thornfeldt also gives a great visual for for applying the correct amount of sunscreen to keep your skin protected. At least one ounce is needed to cover your face, neck, hands and arms.

"An easy way to remember is to apply one-half teaspoon each to the head, neck and arms," Thornfeldt says. "Then apply one teaspoon to each leg and to the front and back of the body.

And one last sunscreen tip from Dr. Thronfeldt: It takes 30 minutes for sunscreen to really start working, so apply half an hour before you go outside. After 30 minutes, apply a second layer.

"Time in the water or more than two hours of sun exposure will break down the sunscreen, so be sure to reapply again after swimming or if you're in the sun for extended periods of time," Thornfeldt says.


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