What is SPF and Why Does It Matter?

Connect Healthy Tips What is SPF and Why Does It Matter?

SPF stands for sun protection factor. This tells you the product’s ability to protect you from UVB rays.  Here is how it works: If it takes 20 minutes for your unprotected skin to start turning red, using an SPF 15 sunscreen supposedly prevents reddening 15 times longer – about five hours. An SPF 30 will allow you to stay in the sun 30 times longer without getting burned.  The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends always using a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher -SPF 30 or higher for extended stays outdoors.

A higher SPF does not mean the sunscreen is stronger or lays on your skin thicker. It just means it will protect your skin for longer.

Use this knowledge to help choose the best sunscreen for your skin this summer.

Save Your Skin: Learn More about SPF and Skin Cancer

For more information on skin cancer, contact the Cancer Institute’s Melanoma and Soft Tissue Tumor Service. And to learn more about protecting your skin, or any other health topic, contact the Health Information Center. The Health Information Center is a library staffed by medical librarians and certified health information specialists. The Health Information Center can do research on any health topic and get the results to you for free.

Contact them at 865-305-9525 or library@utmck.edu. There is also a large collection of health books covering a variety of topics, including the following:

Understanding melanoma : what you need to know

When a loved one falls ill : how to be an effective patient advocate

The definitive guide to cancer : an integrative approach to prevention, treatment, and healing

The Health Information Center is located on the first floor the hospital. In addition to health information, you can find computers, printers, and a quiet place to take a break. Becoming a library member is free and only requires a picture ID.


Monday-Thursday, 8:30 am-9 pm
Friday, 8:30 am-5 pm
Saturday, 9 am-5 pm
Sun 1 pm-9 pm


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