Which sun protection factor do I need?

The sun protection factor determines how effectively and how long a sun cream will protect your skin. Find out how to calculate the value for your skin type.

Fun in the sun – with the right sun protection factor

The sun protection factor (SPF)

We love the sunshine, be it on the beach or on the ski slopes. We have fun and feel good. And we protect ourselves. The sun protection factor (SPF) is one of the things that determines

the effectiveness of a sun cream. NIVEA sun protection products protect the skin from UV rays, preventing us from sunburn and free radicals. As wonderful as sunbathing is, everyone is sensitive to sunlight in one way or another. There are different skin types depending on the colour of our skin, hair and eyes. As fair skin needs to have greater protection from the sun than darker skin, there is a suitable sun protection factor for every skin type. 

Important to know:
The SPF that is suitable for our own skin type is determined by the amount of time the skin can protect itself. This is the period for which the skin can be exposed to the sun without getting sunburn. Depending on your skin type, location and the time of year, this is 5 to 30 minutes on average. 
This formula helps you to determine the sun protection factor that is best for you – and to choose the right sun protection products to allow you to relax in the sun, whether you are on the beach or in the mountains.
A high sun protection factor extends the pleasure of sunbathing and ensures you get a healthy tan. Sun protection factors are broken down into these levels: Low (6–10), medium (15–25), high (30–50), very high (50+).

How do I find the right sun protection factor for my skin?

The following criteria should be taken into account when choosing the correct sun protection factor:

  • How long you want to stay in the sun
  • What skin type you have
  • Where you are in the sun
  • When you are in the sun

All-round protection: quality creams are more effective

Important: The sun protection factor in sun creams mainly describes the UVB protection. NIVEA sun products, however, also protect you from UVA rays. The correct ratio between UVA and UVB protection is defined as recommended by the European Union. It goes without saying that this ratio is fulfilled by all NIVEA sun products.




Mineral UV filters in sun protection products are mainly made up of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. The protection mechanism of these UV filters is based not only on absorbing sunlight but also on physical effects, namely reflecting and scattering sunlight.


In addition, there are chemical UV filters with protection mechanisms based solely on absorbing UV radiation. In this case, the harmful UV radiation is converted into heat energy. To achieve the desired UVA/UVB protection, different UV filters are combined with each other to achieve an optimum protection spectrum. In addition to the sun protection factor to be achieved, sensory aspects and other criteria such as water resistance also play a role in the choosing the right filters.


UVA rays do not cause any painful symptoms on the skin, but they do penetrate very deep into the cells of the dermis. They stimulate the formation of free radicals and can damage cells and the DNA in the long term. UVB rays ‘only’ penetrate into the epidermis. They are responsible for your bronzed complexion, but also for sunburn and skin cancer. As they can directly damage the DNA, they can also result in skin cancer. Using sun protection products helps to protect us from the negative properties of UVA/UVB radiation.
Applying sunscreen
A high sun protection factor offers better protection from UV rays than a lower factor.

Long-lasting, natural tan

If you protect yourself with a high sun protection factor, your skin takes longer to develop a natural tan. But this means that tanning then entails fewer risks and is therefore healthier. What’s more, your tanned complexion will last longer. 

Exciting news: NIVEA SUN has developed a new product which activates natural skin tanning: the NIVEA SUN Protect & Bronze series contains a natural plant extract which activates the skin’s own melanin production. Melanin is produced naturally by the body and is responsible for protecting and tanning the skin. The result: a long-lasting and natural tan.

What is SPF?

What does SPF in sunscreen mean?

Ever wondered what SPF and the various numbers on your sunscreen bottle really mean? Delve into the science of sun protection to find out how to care for your skin while having fun in the sun.