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What Does the SPF Number on Sunscreen Mean?

Here's What Redheads Really Need to Know

We’ve all seen the SPF number on our favorite redhead-approved sunscreen products. This number usually ranges from 10 to 100, but what does it really mean? Here’s everything you need to know about understanding this number and picking the right sunscreen for your skin.

What does SPF mean?

SPF stands for sun protection factor and this in combination with the number next to it measures how well the product will protect your skin from UV rays. As this number increases your protection also increases, but that doesn’t mean that 100 is always the best option. Let’s break down the numbers by groupings. 

Understanding SPF Numbers

The SPF numbers can usually be broken down into several groups:

  • Under 15: Low Protection
  • 15-30: Medium Protection
  • 30-50: High Protection
  • Over 50: Very High Protection

These numbers can be a little confusing because it would seem that you would get far more protection from an SPF 50+ than an SPF 30, but in reality, the protection isn’t that much higher. An SPF 30 protects you from about 97% of UV rays (for the time listed on the bottle) and an SPF 100 protects you from 99% of UV rays (for the time listed on the bottle). 

Choosing the Right SPF

When it comes to choosing the right SPF number, you might think 100 is always necessary, but that’s not the case. Most doctors and dermatologists say you’re safe with anything between 30-50, and anything over 50 isn’t really necessary if you’re reapplying properly. However, if you are someone with ultra sun-sensitive skin or prone to skin cancer, as most redheads are, you may want to opt for a higher number like 75. 

SPF Isn’t All That Matters

Even more important than the SPF number are the properties of the sunscreen. You want to make sure your sunscreen is broad spectrum, protecting you from both UVB and UVA rays. Redheads should also opt for a mineral sunscreen over a chemical one. 


READ: High-SPF Sunscreens: Why They’re Not Better

READ: 10 Best Sunscreens of 2022 

READ: Why Mineral Sunscreens are Best for Redheads 

Rock it like a Redhead!