Sunscreens protect your skin by absorbing and/or reflecting UVA and UVB rays. The FDA requires that all sunscreens contain a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) label. The SPF reveals the relative amount of sunburn protection that a sunscreen can provide an average user when correctly used.
Sunscreens with an SPF of at least 15 are recommended. Note that an SPF of 30 is not twice as protective as an SPF of 15; rather, when properly used, an SPF of 15 protects the skin from 93% of UVB radiation, and an SPF 30 sunscreen provides 97% protection.
Although the SPF ratings found on sunscreen packages apply mainly to UVB rays, many sunscreen manufacturers include ingredients that protect the skin from some UVA rays as well. These “broad-spectrum” sunscreens are highly recommended.
The same people who are most likely to burn are also most vulnerable to skin cancer. Studies have shown individuals with large numbers of freckles and moles also have a higher risk of developing skin cancer.
— Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency