Whether you’re heading off on a trip abroad or looking forward to a staycation, you might be wondering if you’ve got enough sun cream for the nice weather.

The skincare product is something we’re all familiar with but even though you’ve probably bought some before, you might not know what SPF means.

To help you understand what it means, Nivea has explained what SPF stands for and why there’s usually a number next to it.

Wandsworth Times: SPF is something we all reach for when the sun comes out but what is it?SPF is something we all reach for when the sun comes out but what is it? (Image: Getty)

What does SPF stand for?

Nivea’s website explains that “SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor”.

It adds that the SPF refers to “the amount of time the sunscreen will protect your skin from UV rays.”

If sunscreen has a higher SPF, this means it will protect your skin for longer.

What does the SPF number mean?

When choosing SPF, it’s important to know what the number means and how long it will protect you for.

Nivea says that the number refers to “how long it might take you to get sunburnt after applying it, versus not wearing any at all.”

Sharing an example, it said: “If you can spend 10 minutes in the sunlight without burning, a lotion with SPF10 will multiply this "self-protection time" by 10 to equal 100 minutes.”

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It’s important to note that the length of time is approximate as the season, weather and geographic location are all factors that can change how long it takes you to burn.

Should you wear SPF 50 or SPF 30?

When going on holiday you might opt for SPF 50, SPF 30 or something else.

If you’re unsure which to buy, Nivea says there are some differences: “SPF 50 provides approximately 98% protection from UVB rays, as opposed to approximately 96.7% provided by SPF 30.

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Protection levels above SPF 50 only provide marginally additional coverage and no level of SPF protection can provide 100% protection.

“In most situations SPF 30 is adequate protection, provided it is applied correctly - SPF 50 remains the safer option to prevent sun induced damage.”

When should you reapply SPF?

Nivea advises that you reapply SPF every two hours but more often if you’re swimming or doing sports.

This is because “sweat and water can exhaust its protection faster.”