Summer's officially here! What are your plans this year, FNites? No doubt, we're all for beach trips and outdoor activities--especially during the year's hottest season--but while summer is all about having fun, that doesn't mean we should be totally carefree and ditch proper sun protection in the process. But how can you take care of yourself when terms such as "SPF" and "UV rays" just sound completely foreign to you? Don't worry, FN has you covered! We were able to chat with Dr. Stephan Ruppert, Nivea's Regional R&D Director for the Asia Pacific region, and he shared tons of insights about proper summer skin care. Read on below for this season's ultimate FAQ!

1. What is SPF?


"The SPF just indicates the number by which you can multiply the time you can stay under the sun without getting a sunburn, which means your normal exposure time. So just multiply your personal exposure time, which depends on your skin type, your location, the tiem of the year, the altitude, the sun intensity, and there are tools in the Internet available where you could check those personally," Dr. Ruppert shares. "For example, SPF 20 means you can stay under the sun 20 longer than usual before you get a sunburn. If your normal exposure time until you get a sunburn is 10 minutes, then you could stay 200 minutes--if you use an SPF 20 product-- under the sun. However, we don't recommend that you use this time up completely to get a sunburn. We would recommend only about 100 minutes of staying in the sun instead."

2. Can you reapply sunscreen so you can stay longer under the sun?

"No," Dr. Ruppert strongly cautions. "You can't go beyond your sunburn limit and then five minutes later just reapply and expect that you have 200 minutes more. That doesn't work. And that's a very important question because we're always asked about reapplication."

"Of course we recommend that you reapply the product. And the main reason for this is you lose sunscreen because you're active. So if you stand still under the sun--you don't move, you don't sweat, nothing--then you don't have to reapply the product. But since you sit down, you sweat, you go into the water, you do different things--you lose a cretain amount of sunscreen. That's why we recommend that you need to reapply it every two hours in order to be on the safe side," he recommends.

3. Can you combine different SPF numbers to get maximum protection?

"SPF is not additive. If, for example, you have an SPF 30 product and your friend comes along, and you see her with an SPF 50 product, you can't use both products and expect to have a total of SPF 80. The first SPF you apply, that's your protection. So if you started with SPF 30, then you only have 30. That's why we recommend that you start with a high SPF base."

4. Does sunscreen really prevent you from getting darker?

"Generally, sunscreen protects you from UVB and UVA radiation. It means it prevents you from getting sunburn, getting skin cancer, from having free radicals on your skin, but also from tanning."

5. Do our lips need SPF as well?

"Lips are generally sensitive, and I would say that they would need a little bit more SPF than the skin," Dr. Ruppert advises.

(Photo by kirill svetashov via Flickr Creative Commons)

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