What is SPF?
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. This is a numerical rating that denotes the extra time a sunscreen product will allow you to stay outside before you start to burn. A higher SPF blocks out more rays. This is used as a measure of the length of time a sunscreen provides protection from the harmful rays of the sun.
Does sunscreen with SPF block out all harmful rays of the sun?
A product with an SPF of 15 will filter out approximately 93% of UVB rays; SPF 30 filters out about 97% of UVB rays; SPF 50 filters out about 98%, a very marginal difference from SPF 30. No sunscreen can block 100% of the sun’s rays.
How is the SPF calculated?
The Sun Protection Factor of a sunscreen is derived by dividing the time it takes a fair-skinned person to burn with a sunscreen by the time taken to burn without a sunscreen. For example, if you burn without a sunscreen in 10 minutes and burn with a sunscreen in 300 minutes, this is 300/10 = 30. In this case, the sunscreen will have an SPF of 30. In other words, an SPF of 30 would allow you to stay in the sun 30 times longer than you could without this protection.
Important to note, however, is that sunscreen is rarely applied in real life as it is in lab-testing conditions, and it sweats and rubs off, so never assume you are safe for the entire period. Re-applying a high-factor sunscreen every two hours is recommended.
Is a higher SPF necessarily better for you?
Not once you hit the upper limit. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends choosing a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, but notes that thereafter you get sharply diminishing returns.
What are UVA and UVB?
UVA refers to ultraviolet radiation with wavelengths between 320 and 400 nm, comprising over 99% of such radiation that reaches the surface of the earth. UVA enhances the harmful effects of UVB.
UVB refers to ultraviolet radiation with wavelengths between 290 and 320 nm, comprising less than 1% of the ultraviolet radiation that reaches the earth’s surface. UVB causes sunburn and a number of damaging photochemical changes within cells, including damage to DNA, leading to premature ageing of the skin, pre-malignant and malignant changes and a variety of photosensitivity reactions.
Does SPF only apply to UVB rays?
Yes. There is no SPF equivalent for UVA. You can, however, look for additional ingredients in your sunscreen to protect you from UVA – such as zinc oxide (a key ingredient in LITTLE URCHIN sunscreen) and titanium dioxide – but there is no standard measurement for how long these ingredients will keep you protected.
How does UV radiation affect my skin?
UV radiation, a known carcinogen, can have a number of harmful effects on the skin. Both UVA and UVB have been linked to skin cancer and a weakening of the immune system. They also contribute to premature ageing of the skin and cataracts (a condition that impairs eyesight) and cause skin colour changes.
UVA rays penetrate deep into the skin and heavily contribute to premature ageing. Up to 90% of the visible skin changes commonly attributed to ageing are caused by sun exposure.
UVB rays mostly affect the surface of the skin and are the primary cause of sunburn.
How long can you remain protected in the sun with SPF sunscreen?
This depends on the SPF factor of the sunscreen as well as the extent to which the sunscreen protection is diminished by sweating and the sunscreen being rubbed off your skin. Refer to how SPF is calculated above
What is a broad-spectrum sunscreen?
A sunscreen that defends the skin against both UVA ('ageing' rays) and UVB ('burning' rays).
Is there a recommended level of UVA protection?
No, there is currently no national standard on UVA testing, which means some broad-spectrum products will give better protection than others.
Can sunscreen provide 100% protection from the harmful rays of the sun?
No sunscreen can provide 100% protection, but SPF 30 filters out about 97% of the sun’s harmful rays.
Who is the Therapeutic Goods Administration?
The TGA is the regulatory body for therapeutic goods (including medicines, medical devices, gene technology and blood products) in Australia. This includes sunscreens.
Does LITTLE URCHIN sunscreen apply to the skin easily?
Yes, though as is common with organic skin care products, particularly when they’ve been in the heat, mixing the sunscreen by shaking or squeezing the tube prior to application is advisable.
Is LITTLE URCHIN sunscreen greasy?
The Little Urchin sun protection product applies easily without appearing greasy or leaving a pasty look. It also does not leave the skin feeling dry at the end of the day.
Is LITTLE URCHIN sunscreen reef safe/reef friendly?
Studies show that Zinc oxide, the key ingredient in LITTLE URCHIN sunscreen, does not harm coral.
While there are no actual ‘reef safe’ tests or ‘reef safe’ certifications for sunscreens and there is no official distinction between ‘reef safe’ and 'reef friendly’, scientific studies show that the chemicals including oxybenzone, butylparaben, octinoxate and 4-methylbenzylidene camphor used in more than 3,500 sunscreen products worldwide, are extremely harmful to fragile coral reefs. In fact, coral has been shown to die within 96 hours of exposure to low levels of sunscreen chemicals.
LITTLE URCHIN sunscreen does not include any harmful chemicals and is considered friendly to and safe for the reef.
Is LITTLE URCHIN sunscreen water resistant?
Yes, LITTLE URCHIN sunscreen is certified as water resistant for three hours. This means the sunscreen retains its stated SPF value for three hours in the water or while sweating. After three hours, a decline in SPF protection may occur and the sunscreen should be reapplied. To be safe, re-application after 2 hours is recommended.