What Effect Does Sunscreen Have on a Cellular Level

What Effect Does Sunscreen Have on a Cellular Level
The average sunscreen user buys products based on an SPF number. He assumes that a higher number means that the product is more effective. However, it's not really that simple, so read on to understand more about sunscreen and how it affects you on a cellular level.


SPF stands for "Sun Protection Factor." This measures how much protection the product will offer in relation to the burn time of the user's skin. For example, if the skin burns in 10 minutes, a product with an SPF of 15 would prolong the time it takes for the skin to burn--in this case, 150 minutes.


UV stands for "ultraviolet," a type of radiation emitted by the sun that makes it possible for exposed skin to burn on cloudy days as well as sunny ones. The levels of UV radiation are constantly changing.


Sunscreen protects skin by reflecting, scattering or absorbing some of the UV radiation, so that it takes longer to burn the skin.


Melanin, the substance which gives the skin color, is designed to absorb and dissipate energy from the sun, thus further protecting the body. This is why fair-skinned people sunburn more easily than people of darker complexion. Suntans and freckles are both the result of the skin attempting to protect itself.

Cancer Risks

Sunscreen is recommended by doctors because it lessens the chance that overexposure to UV will result in cancerous melanoma.

Cellular Level

The effect, then, of sunscreen on a cellular level is a protective one: the cells avoid damage through the chemicals in the sunscreen that absorb, reflect and scatter UV radiation.

Article Written By Arthur Gamble

Arthur Gamble has been writing professionally since 2005, with his work appearing on a number of websites including ConnectEd. He writes on a variety of topics but prefers to write about home improvement. He attended California Baptist College.

Don't Miss a Thing!

All our latest outdoor content delivered to your inbox once a week.



We promise to keep your email address safe and secure.