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Essential guide to SPFs and UV protection

03/02/2020 by Alexandra

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This guide from Green People UK provides information on SPFs and UV protection. We dispel the most commonly held misconceptions regarding the differences and effectiveness of Sun Protection Factors (SPF) and explain why organic sunscreens are so much gentler on your skin than many traditional high street sun lotions.

Scent Free Sun Lotion - SPF30 200ml

Scent Free Sun Lotion - SPF30 200ml

High factor fragrance-free SPF30 sun lotion suitable for sensitive skin


Organic vs high street sun creams

By law all sunscreens that make an SPF claim have to be tested to confirm that they offer the protection that they claim.

This applies to natural and organic products in just the same way as conventional brands so mean that you can expect the same level of protection from an organic sun lotion as from its high street equivalent.

The main difference between organic and high street sun creams is that organic sun care is usually much gentler on your skin, as it does not contain some of the harsh ingredients used in traditional formulations. Read more about why organic sun lotions.

Non-toxic UV filters

Green People’s organic sun creams provide natural, broad-spectrum UVA & UVB protection through safe, non-toxic filters. Unlike some chemical UV filters, our UV filters do not cause skin reactions or harm the environment.

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and measures the protection against the UV rays which cause sunburn. These rays are known as UVB rays.

How are Sun Protection Factors (SPF) for sun creams calculated?

SPF ratings are a measure of the length of time that a person can stay in sunlight without their skin visible burning when using a sun lotion compared to the time they would start to burn without protection.

As an example, if a person with a particular skin type were to start to get skin redness after say 8 minutes of unprotected sun exposure, using an SPF15 sun lotion they would be able to spend 120 minutes or 2 hours in the same strength sunlight before starting to get skin redness. Applying an SPF30 product would enable them to spend 240 minutes or up to 4 hours in the same strength of sunlight before starting to get skin redness.

The actual times will vary depending on the skin type and tanning ability of the individual, and on the strength of the sunlight, but the multiplication factor remains the same.

Do I get twice the protection by using a Sun Lotion SPF30 compared to a Sun Lotion with SPF15?

NO - An SPF15 sun lotion, when applied properly, protects you against 93% of UVB. An SPF30 protects you against 97% of UVB.

Sun filters: physical and chemical

Sun filters fall into two categories - physical and chemical.

Physical filters work by reflecting UV light away from the skin - they are like a physical barrier between the skin and the light. Examples include Titanium dioxide and Zinc oxide.

Chemical filters work by undergoing a chemical reaction in the presence of UV light. As part of this reaction, the energy of the UV light is converted into a different form, usually heat. As a result of this reaction the structure of the UV filter changes and it gradually loses its protective properties. This is why sun lotions need to be reapplied every 2 to 3 hours to maintain protection.

As a result of their activity, some UV filters can release free radicals. Some filters are more likely to cause free radical generation than others. To guard against any possible free radical generation and damage, we include a selection of antioxidant ingredients in all of our organic sun creams. These include Green Tea, Chamomile, Edelweiss, Rosemary and Avocado oil - all of which have demonstrated antioxidant activity.

Sun creams & UVA protection

uva symbol

It is important to be aware that the SPF of a sun lotion only indicates the level of protection against UVB radiation. It does not tell you anything about the protection it offers against dangerous UVA light.

This means that whilst the skin will not show visible signs of UV damage and will not go red and burn, without regular reapplication the UVA radiation could still be getting through and causing long-term damage to the living skin cells in the deeper underlying layers of the skin.

It is very important to apply your sun cream regularly and liberally, no matter what SPF you choose. Read about how to apply sun cream.

Discover our beautiful natural sun creams:

Green People sun creams all provide the recommended level of UVA protection under the Recommendations by the European Commission and provide either medium (SPF15) or high (SPF30) protection against UVB rays.

What makes them different?

  • Natural & organic
  • Gentle on sensitive skin & prickly heat
  • Reef-safe
  • Non-greasy
  • Water-repellent
  • Scent Free Sun Lotion - SPF30 200ml

    Scent Free Sun Lotion - SPF30 200ml

    High factor fragrance-free SPF30 sun lotion suitable for sensitive skin

    Edelweiss Sun Lotion with Tan Accelerator - SPF15 200ml

    Edelweiss Sun Lotion with Tan Accelerator - SPF15 200ml

    Organic SPF15 sun lotion with tan accelerator

    Organic Children Scent Free Sun Lotion - SPF30 150ml

    Organic Children Scent Free Sun Lotion - SPF30 150ml

    High factor scent free SPF30 suitable for children with sensitive skin

    Scent Free Facial Sun Cream - SPF30 50ml

    Scent Free Facial Sun Cream - SPF30 50ml

    High factor, scent-free SPF30 facial sun cream for sensitive skin


    Our friendly UK customer care team is happy to help you with any questions you may have about UV protection and our organic sun lotions. Please call us on 01403 740350 or leave your comment or question below.

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