Is SPF 15 Enough for Complete Skin Protection?

There is a lot of confusion regarding what SPF coverage is and how much protection each SPF provides. Get a clear understanding of which SPF is suitable for offering complete sun protection on our blog today. 
SPF in sunscreen

The term "SPF" stands for sun protection factor. SPF in sunscreen shields your skin from the sun's rays to keep you protected and safe from sunburns and skin damage. 

Sun protection should begin right from infancy. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, using sunscreen daily has been shown to help reduce the chance of developing skin cancer caused by exposure to the sun's UV rays.

The most effective sunscreen to choose is one with broad-spectrum UV protection ranging between SPF 15 and SPF 30.

Every time you are outside or close to a window with sunlight, you are exposed to the sun's damaging radiation as UV rays can penetrate your clothing.  You're probably aware of how important sunscreen is if you spend a lot of time outside.

Today, we go over if SPF 15 is enough for complete skin protection from UV rays. 

SPF: A Comprehensive Guide

When all other variables are held constant, SPF is defined as the ratio of the UV radiation needed to burn skin that is guarded (by sunscreen) to the UV radiation needed to burn the same skin that is unprotected (by sunscreen).

Using the following formula, SPF is calculated: SPF equals the minimal erythemal dose (MED) of protected skin divided by the MED of unprotected skin.

SPF aims to determine how long a sunscreen will shield you from the sun's UV rays (ultraviolet B radiation in particular). The most prevalent types of skin cancer and sun-related skin damage are both exacerbated by UVB rays, which can also cause sunburn and damage to the skin's outer layers (actinic keratosis).

The SPF rating informs you how long you can spend outdoors while using a product. You would then be protected 15 times longer with a layer of SPF 15 than if you didn't have one.

But this is where the figures become perplexing: Sure, SPF 30 is claimed to protect you for twice as long as SPF 15, but in actuality, that has nothing to do with how long the product remains on your skin. Two hours is the maximum time between reapplications, or after you have dried off after going swimming or working out.

The SPF of a product is used to assess its UVB protection. Theory suggests that sunscreens with higher SPFs offer enhanced protection against the potentially harmful effects of UV radiation than those with lower SPFs.

The thickness (viscosity) of an emulsion has no bearing on SPF. However, a higher SPF does necessitate a larger concentration of the active chemicals in sunscreen, which is unsafe. Given below is a classification of the SPF numbers and their efficacy:

  • SPF 15-30 is recommended for all skin types.
  • SPF 30–50 is advised throughout the summer, or if there will be prolonged sun exposure, such as on a beach vacation or in mountainous terrain.
  • SPF 50+: Offers no additional benefits. For this reason, any sunscreen with an SPF of 50 or higher will be marked as SPF 50+.

SPF 15 is suitable for daily use and is more bearable to wear than thicker lotions. But the more potent, water-resistant sunscreens, such as SPF 50, allow you to swim outside at noon for about 30 minutes without any apparent consequences.

The general consensus is that anything with an SPF higher than 15 offers negligible protection. The fact that SPF 15 filters out 93% of UVB radiation from the sun appears to support this.

In contrast to thicker creams, SPF 15 is suitable for daily use and is more comfortable to wear. However, stronger, water-resistant sunscreens like SPF 50 allow you to swim outside at noon for about 30 minutes without any apparent consequences. The best way to protect your skin is to start with SPF 30.

Is SPF 15 Enough?

SPF functions by extending your skin's built-in protection from UV radiation. An SPF of 15 offers roughly 15 times more protection than unprotected skin, for instance. Always use a "wide spectrum" sunblock if you enjoy taking long walks in the sunshine.

Due to melanin, darker skin types—typically Asian or African skin—which rarely burn and tan easily are more protected from UV radiation than lighter skin types. Therefore, it is probably sufficient to wear sunscreen with an SPF of 15 to 30.

Skin without sunscreen would be protected 50 times more by an SPF of 50. Selecting a broad-spectrum sunscreen ensures that both UVA and UVB rays are blocked.

An SPF 15 can probably help prevent sunburn if you are out for a brief period of time, such as 20 to 30 minutes, and away from the peak sun hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. However, SPF 15 is not enough to protect your skin from the sun in every given situation. 

A broad-spectrum sunscreen that blocks UVB and UVA rays is more effective at preventing sun damage for prolonged exposures is better, like a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 (as recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation).

With each increase in SPF, more UVB radiation is filtered, from 93 percent at SPF 15 to 98 percent at SPF 50.

There is not much of a difference over SPF 50, and there are no sunscreens that completely block UVB or UVA rays.

What If You Have a Hard Time Reapplying Sunscreen?

While it can be tedious to apply sunscreen every two hours if you're wearing makeup, think about using spray sunscreen. This can be used on top of other products throughout the day. Finally, to protect your skin when spending a lot of time outside, wear sun-protective clothing, such as hats with wide brims or rash guards.

Sunscreen isn't meant to be your only form of defense, after all. Since continuous daily use is the goal, SPF 15 is a comfortable level for most people. As the SPF level climbs, sunscreen frequently feels heavier, stickier, and even greasy protecting you from 93% of the sun's rays.

Although it is complex, most dermatologists advise applying sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or 30 to keep things under control.

Using a sweat- and water-proof product with SPF 30, which blocks 97% of UVB rays, is beneficial for people who are exposed to the sun for long periods of time, such as individuals who spend the day at sea, or those who work outdoors.

What Other Factors Are Pertinent to Consider When Applying Sunscreen?

Because UVA photons have the longest wavelengths, they can penetrate your skin's deeper layers. Since a lot of what occurs at this subsurface level affects your skin's firmness, resilience, and elasticity, they are the ones responsible for skin aging. Additionally, UVA rays cause your subsurface melanocytes to make melanin, which darkens you. This is why they aid in tanning.

Short wavelengths and a propensity to remain on the epidermis are characteristics of UVB rays. They are the rays that cause skin cancer in addition to causing sunburns.

Usually, UVB rays are considered to be the harsher of the two. However, UVA rays are responsible for the leathery texture, sun spots, and wrinkles, so it's essential to shield yourself.

Factors  You Should Consider Before Applying Sunscreen:

  • Keep it simple: Use a broad-spectrum SPF 30, and apply liberally every two hours when you're out in the sun.
  • Use sunscreen every day: By doing so, you can greatly slow down the natural aging processes of your skin and reduce your risk of skin cancer and long-term damage.
  • Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours
  • Apply a sufficient amount of sunscreen to your face and neck.
  • Dab and swipe sunscreen on evenly and softly. Rubbing exposes areas, so try to apply sunscreen evenly and thinly all over.
  • Apply sunscreen for around 30 minutes before spending time outside in the sun. 
  • Apply sunscreen to your face as the final step.
  • On overcast or chilly days, still use sunscreen: Clouds can sometimes be penetrated by up to 80% of UV radiation, and UV rays can also bounce off the snow.

How to Choose a Sunblock

The formulations of sunscreen available today include creams, lotions, and sprays. Do they all have the same potency?

Sprays, creams, and lotions all have the same effectiveness, theoretically. Things actually work differently in reality.

In reality, sunscreen is often sprayed on as a perfume, and then tossed on or it is not applied properly. People receive less UV protection as a result. In order to get enough protection, you typically need to spray sunscreen for five seconds on each general body part before rubbing it in.

Waterproof Sunscreen

Using a water-resistant sunscreen may be adequate protection for water sports, but it might not be the best choice for sports, where the sunscreen might drip into your eyes.

Spray Sunscreen

These kinds of sunscreen are particularly popular among parents of energetic children. Although some experts believe spray sunscreen is safe, they advise parents to use cream sunscreen first. 

Broad Spectrum

In sunscreen terminology, the term "broad spectrum" refers to a sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays. Always wearing broad-spectrum sunscreen is a smart move.

Frequently Asked Questions About Sunscreen

How Does Sunscreen Work?

The composition and mechanism of action of sun screening agents vary; they may block, reflect, or scatter sunlight. In contrast, chemical sunscreens absorb UV rays, while physical sunscreens scatter or reflect light.

What Sunscreen Is Best?

Water-resistant, broad-spectrum, sweat-proof, non-toxic, and non-irritant are all important characteristics of an ideal sunscreen.

Does SPF Have an Impact on How Long Sunscreen Keeps Your Skin Protected?

Sunscreen typically lasts 2 hours. It is, therefore, necessary to reapply sunscreen every 2 hours. Sunscreen should be reapplied more regularly if you sweat a lot, feel your skin burning, or spend time in the water.


The use of sunscreen is an effective way to avoid the harmful effects of UVA and UVB radiation from the sun.

Throughout all outdoor activities, adults of all ages and skin tones should wear sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30. Children over the age of six months should wear a cream-based sunscreen with at least SPF 30.

Furthermore, using sunscreen alone won't be enough to protect you from the sun's radiation. You can also shield yourself from the sun using protective clothing. 

Be sure to check out our selection of UPF 50+ swimwear and clothing at UV Skinz to stay sun safe all year long.