How well do you know your SPF?

Living in Australia, coping with the heat and sun can seem for many of us to be second nature. In addition to seeking shade and wearing hats, we know we should apply sunscreen to protect our skin, but what type of formula is best?

We’re here to help clear up all those acronyms and explain what you should look for in a sunscreen to give your skin the best protection possible.

Decoding sunscreen: How do SPF ratings work?

A sun protection factor (SPF) rating denotes the amount of predominantly harmful UVB radiation that can penetrate the sunscreen and reach your skin.

To determine this, researchers measure the time it takes ultraviolet radiation (UVR) to burn skin with sunscreen compared to unprotected skin. So if we begin to burn in 10 minutes without sunscreen, a product with an SPF of 15 will protect us for 150 minutes (2.5 hours), while an SPF of 30 will protect you for 300 minutes (5 hours).

Sunscreen is your first line of defence against harmful UV radiation. Sunscreen is your first line of defence against harmful UV radiation.

When you see a plus sign on an SPF rating, such as 50+, this means that the sunscreen actually has a higher rating than the one shown. So an SPF 50+ sunscreen will have a rating of 51 or more. As a quick guide, an SPF 15 sunscreen will block out 93.4 per cent of UVB, while SPF 30 and SPF 50 will block out 96.7 and 98 per cent respectively.

It is important to remember that just because you apply a higher SPF sunscreen, it doesn’t mean you can safely stay out in the sun for longer. You still need to be taking breaks in the shade and reapplying your sunscreen for optimum protection.

However, you should also note that the effectiveness of sunscreen also depends on proper application and the photostability of the formula. A key element in maintaining the effectiveness of the formula, photostability refers to an ingredient’s resistance to light-induced change.

Not all sunscreens are created equal, so make sure you choose one that is both water-resistant and broad-spectrum.

What does broad spectrum mean?

Broad spectrum refers to the protection against UVA rays in addition to UVB SPF. When a product that is broad spectrum, it means that the level of protection against UVA should be in ratio to the level of UVB protection.


Ultraceuticals' SunActive range provides a high SPF in a broad spectrum, water resistant formula.

Ultraceuticals’ SunActive range provides a high SPF in a broad spectrum, water resistant formula.


Why is water resistance important?

Even if you’re not planning on going swimming, it’s still a good idea to get a water-resistant sunscreen, as we will naturally sweat in the elevated heat. Water-resistant sunscreens are able to retain their SPF even after a certain duration of exposure to water. Ultraceuticals’ Ultra SunActive SPF 50+ range has a maximum water resistance of four hours.

However, just because a product is water-resistant, you still need to be reapplying it regularly, especially as you may rub it off when using a towel or changing clothes.

How can I find the best sunscreen for me?

If you want to protect your skin from the effects of photo ageing and melanomas, it’s important to be using the right sunscreen. As not all formulas are made equal, you need to find one which ticks all the boxes.

Ultraceuticals’ Ultra SunActive SPF 50+ Range has been specially formulated to be suitable for all skin types, and is free of parabens, benzophenone and synthetic fragrances. With an innovative touch dry technology, Ultra SunActive SPF 50+ products have a velvety finish, meaning no more oily sunscreen sheen.

With a four-hour water resistance, as well as complete broad-spectrum coverage, you can give your skin the best chance at staying healthy and youthful. To find out more, you can book a skin consultation with a qualified Ultraceuticals Beauty Therapist, or locate a clinic near you.