Are you confused about using a sunscreen? With so many types of sunscreen to choose from, how do you know which one is right for you? Let us help you simplify the choice.
Who needs a sunscreen?
Everyone. Skin is prone to degrees of sun damage regardless of gender, age or race. In order to minimize this damage and protect skin from harmful sun rays everyone needs to use a sunscreen.
What are the important factors to consider before I buy my next bottle of sunscreen?
1. SPF- Sun Protection Factor
All sunscreens have the Sun Protection Factor (SPF) listed on the label.
This Sun Protection factor or SPF indicates how effective the sunscreen is in preventing sunburn caused by UVB rays. The higher the SPF number, the better is the expected protection. For instance, a sunscreen with SPF 30 will block 97% of UVB rays and an SPF of 50 will block about 99% of UVB rays.
2. Protection from UVA rays (Active ingredients/ PA Rating)
SPF only measures protection against UVB rays or how long you are protected from burning. It does not take into account the damage caused by UVA rays which penetrate deep into the dermis, the skin’s thickest layer causing deeper skin damage. Unprotected exposure to these UVA rays can lead to premature skin aging, wrinkling and other signs of “photo-ageing”.
To know if a sunscreen protects against UVA rays, look at the active ingredients listed on the back of the tube or under the ingredient list. If you see Avobenzone, zinc oxide, or Titanium dioxide, the sunscreen provides UVA protection.
Until recently there was no rating system to measure the level of protection a sunscreen offers against UVA rays but some newer sunscreens have adopted the PA rating which is a 3-levelled Protection Grade system which is similar to SPF method of measuring UVB protection
PA rankings are listed as PA+, PA++ or PA+++. The more plus symbols the label has, the more protection the sunscreen provides against UVA rays.
3. Water Resistance
When it comes to sunscreen there is no waterproof or sweatproof formula. A sunscreen can be resistant to water or sweat for a certain period of time. Based on your activity levels if you have to stay outside for a long time which is bound to make you sweat or if you are going swimming opt for water resistant sunscreens because regular ones can rub off when the sun makes us sweat or while swimming.
For maximum protection, choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen that will protect you from both UVA and UVB rays and look for the PA rating on the label. Apply sunscreen liberally 30 minutes before going outdoors and reapply as indicated in the packaging.