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Travel Tips: Which SPF Sunscreen Do I Need?

Cruisers to the Caribbean in the throws of a northern winter are probably ready for some fun in the the sun, but be warned, it’s hotter than you think. We all dream of laying out on deck turning into bronze gods and goddesses, but the absolute last thing you want on your cruise vacation is a sunburn.

The pain, the sweating, the embarrassment. It’s all there when you let yourself cook a little too long in that Cozumel sun so make sure you pack sunscreen. Not just any sunscreen either, getting the right kind goes a long way in avoiding the burn and getting the glow your co-workers back in Duluth will envy.

What Does SPF Mean?

SPF Sunscreen

Wear plenty of sunscreen for a better cruise experience

Okay, this seems like a no-brainer- a higher SPF is better, right? Well, let’s first take a look at what SPF means and how it helps protect your skin from the sun’s rays. SPF stands for “sun protection factor” and how well it performs is entirely dependent on your own skin. If you’re someone with fair skin, it’s normal for you to start to burn mere minutes after sitting in the sun, then the SPF number acts as a multiplier for that time. So, if you burn in 10 minutes and apply an SPF 15, in theory that gives you 150 minutes in the sun without burning.

However, there are plenty of factors which need to be considered. If you’re swimming or sweating, sunscreen can break down sooner depending on the kind.

RELATED: What’s the Biggest Mistake You Can Make on a Cruise?

Is Higher SPF Better?

Really, once you get to 30 SPF and over, the difference is negligible. 30 SPF blocks about 93% of the sun’s rays, while 50 SPF will stop almost all of them. If you’re reapplying regularly with 30, then you’re not going to have to worry about coming back to your cabin looking like a lobster.

A lot of people also wonder which type of sunscreen works the best, the spray versions or plain old lotion? Really, they both get the job done. Sprays are convenient for those hard to reach places, but often the lotions are cheaper and last longer. There’s nothing wrong with mixing and matching based on your preference.

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