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What is SPF in sunscreen creams? I go to 2500m-4000m altitude. What should I use? And I've heard that SPF more than 55 is not for men. Does more SPF mean more sun protection?

What would be an excellent choice for men? thanks.

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SPF more than 55 is not for men sounds like someone is taking the mickey –  Liam Jun 12 at 12:36
    
Somehow related: outdoors.stackexchange.com/questions/1864/… –  Benedikt Bauer Jun 12 at 12:54
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You can always cover up with appropriate clothing as well as apply sun screen. –  Paul Lydon Jun 12 at 16:13
    
At very high SPF levels, the limitation is probably just how long the stuff will stay on your skin. It's going to come off as you sweat, wash your hands, etc. It also matters how much you apply. I have a lot of summit victory pictures where I look like a dork because I have sunscreen caked on my face unevenly. –  Ben Crowell Jun 12 at 20:22

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up vote 10 down vote accepted

As it is stated in this Wikipedia article, the sun protection factor (SPF) roughly describes how the time that your skin is able to protect itself from sunburn is elongated. To take the Wikipedia example:

if a person develops a sunburn in 10 minutes when not wearing a sunblock, the same person will prevent sunburn for 150 minutes if he/she wears a sunblock with a SBF of 15

So, yes, more SPF means more protection. How much protection you need depends on how intense the sun is where you are, how long you are about to stay in the sun, and how sensitive your skin is.

In general one can say, that if you are somewhere with highly reflective surfaces (snow, water...) you need more protection than somewhere in a light forest. Also the higher you are, the more SPF you should take, as in higher altitudes less of the UV radiation is absorbed by the atmosphere. Therefore one cannot give a definite recommendation on what SPF you should use.

Also if your skin requires an SPF of 50 or higher, you will need it – male or not male – and in high altitudes on a glacier you might need it.

If you are totally unsure about what is suitable, I would recommend seeing a dermatologist to find out which skin type you are and what protection will be needed for it.

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Worth mentioning is that if you're somewhere with highly reflective surfaces, you'll need to provide sun protection for parts of your body that don't normally need it, such as the underside of your chin or the roof of your mouth. –  Mark Jun 14 at 6:31
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You do not gain much additional protection after SPF 50 to 100, though it should be noted for the most part higher factors are for use in sport environments (hence a lot having 'sport' written on them) but it is interesting you only gain roughly 0.2% per 10 Factors after 50. –  Aravona Jun 19 at 10:39
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@Aravona that's very interesting, can you give additional information on that please (source?). Thx. –  EverythingRightPlace Jun 21 at 21:11
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Sure, mostly its from a bit of everywhere, I have PLE so I'm recommended to wear SPF30 on 20C+ days (and as summer wears on to wear it less) I will say pick and choose what you want to about how often to wear suncream and how strong a suncream is needed, but the percentage information came from skincancer.org/prevention/sun-protection/sunscreen/… ... though please bear in mind as it is a skin cancer website they are a little OTT on protection, the percentage facts were of interest only to me due to my PLE :) –  Aravona Jun 22 at 18:29

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