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How to choose the right SPF rating

Learning what SPF rating is right for you can be complicated. I have put together a quick and easy way to understand ‘Your Skin Tone Level.’ Why is this so important? It helps to give you an idea of where your skin tone falls in  susceptibility to the sun, and UV exposure.

In school I was taught the Fitzpatrick Scale. I am basing these levels off of that but in an                                                                                      easier to understand version.

For more on the Fitzpatrick Scale please read here.

Please read below to determine which category you fall into. This goes for any skin color whether you are fair or deep. I created this graph as a means to hopefully break down a confusing paradigm.

How to measure your skin tone level

*(In terms we can understand)

Please note: Certain medications and diseases can enhance susceptibility to UV rays no matter which skin tone category you fall into.

Skin tone 1– skin has no resistance to the sun whatsoever. The skin burns easily and never tans. A sunburn can last days possibly blistering, then peeling, and then back to its normal colored state.

  • If this is your skin tone level I recommend always wearing an SPF 50 to fully block the UV light and protect your skin to the maximum.

Skin tone 2-3– skin tone 2 will burn if left unprotected for a few hours but has the ability to tan slightly. Skin tone 3 will burn if left unprotected for a few hours but tans quickly and continues to build color the longer it is exposed to UV light.

  • If this is your skin tone level you have multiple choices to pick from. I would recommend a minimum of SPF 30 for daily out an about use. If you’ll be out all day without shade I recommend SPF 50. If you do desire some color… as this skin tone can tan I would recommend an SPF 15 and reapply it every hour. This will help ‘buffer’ the UV light, keep it from burning your skin, but still give you enough exposure to build up color (tan). Keep in mind that a tan is your body’s way of shielding itself and building a resistance from further UV damage. I never preach to get a tan. Never Ever!!! But I also know some people prefer color on their body. If you’re wanting to do that naturally than this is a recommended ‘safer’ option.

*** Warning. If you decide to do this remember you can still get a sunburn. Decide before hand if the gamble is worth it. 

Skin tone 4– this skin tone can withstand hours of being in the sun unprotected without burning. It usually tans quite quickly. However, if left unprotected from UV light after many hours/days the skin can burn and usually peels to reveal a deeper tan.

  • If this is your skin tone I would recommend an SPF 15 no less. I still recommend SPF 50 for those long over exposed days at the beach etc.

Skin tone 5– this skin tone is deep by nature and rarely ever burns. It can withstand harsher UV lighting for longer periods of time, and tans easily. With certain deep tones a tan may or may not be noticeable. Mind you the sun is still effecting your skin even if you cannot see the damage with your naked eye.

  • If this is your skin tone an SPF 15 daily will serve you well. You will be protected from damaging rays as long as you’re diligent in reapplication. However an SPF 50 is the best guarantee from all UV damage.
*Do not be fooled though. All above mentioned skin types/tones can burn and fall victim to skin cancers. 

Personally I wear an SPF of 30 everyday on my body for basic in and outdoor activities such as running errands. When I am going to be thriving out in the sun for many hours, with no shade, I always use an SPF 50. SPF 50 guarantees I can go longer in between re-applications and shields my skin greater from UVA/UVB exposure than SPF 30. I still take great measures to secure shady spots and if I am out I always wear sunglasses and a hat. I am skin tone #2.

Comment below and share your skin tone level and what you like to use to protect your skin from the sun. 😊

If you liked the way I broke this down please let me know! Also, don’t forget to share this post if you found it helpful and know someone within your circle who could benefit from it.

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Want to learn more on sunscreen and see a review of my favorite sun defenders?! Check out these posts below:

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