What's wrong with a high sun protection factor

20, 30 or 50?

The sun protection factor (SPF) is noted on every sun cream. But what exactly is behind it? And which sun protection factor is suitable for which skin?

In a nutshell:
Every skin type has its own protection time. During this time, our skin does not get sunburn, even if we expose ourselves to the sun completely unprotected. How long is this time? That depends on the individual skin type. The sun protection factor is an indication of how much longer we can stay in the sun beyond this self-protection time with appropriate sunscreen.

An example:
If a person's self-protection time is ten minutes and they use sun protection factor 20, they can theoretically expose themselves to solar radiation for 200 minutes before they get sunburn. That's about three hours. The calculation behind it: 10 minutes of self-protection time x 20 (SPF) = 200. The requirement for this calculation is a sufficiently thick layer of cream. If there is too little cream, the protective effect is reduced.

Sun creams are available with a sun protection factor of 12, but also 20, 30 or 50. In general, the higher the sun protection factor, the stronger the protection. However, this statement should be treated with caution, because it gives the impression that a cream with a very high sun protection factor offers full safety. It's not like that!

The general medical recommendations are:

  • Avoid strong sunlight (for example at noon).
  • Slowly get your skin used to the sun in spring.
  • Protect your body with clothing, sunglasses and a hat.
  • Use sunscreen if parts of the body cannot be covered by clothing.