What does SPF stand for?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. Using sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or greater can prevent sunburn and the damage it causes. Watch the animation to learn more about sunburn and skin protection.

SPF is an abbreviation for "sun protection factor." A sunscreen's protection factor (SPF) is figured by comparing how long it takes sunscreen-protected skin to burn to the length of time it takes unprotected skin to burn. The higher the SPF, the more protection you get against UVB rays. SPF strengths range from 2 to 50 and higher, but dermatologists recommend that all skin types use a product with a minimum of SPF 30 that is water-resistant and broad-spectrum, meaning it deflects both UVA and UVB rays. While some sunscreens block both UVA and UVB rays, the SPF number only rates its ability to deflect UVB. Researchers are working on a system to rate UVA protection.

Use a sunscreen and wear protective clothing to safeguard your skin from the sun’s harmful rays.

SPF stands for "sun protection factor." It is a measure of the protection provided by the individual type of sunscreen. The SPF number indicates the amount of sun exposure needed to cause sunburn on skin protected with sunscreen compared with skin that is not protected with sunscreen. For example, an SPF of 30 means it would take a person 30 times longer to burn when wearing sunscreen than the person would without sunscreen.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.