The concept of sun protection seems simple in theory: put sunscreen on, block harmful UVA & UVB rays.
Like many other things in life, not all sunscreens are created equal.
When we’re looking for sun protection, we turn to that little number that follows SPF, Sun Protection Factor.
Here’s how we see it:
SPF helps to prevent harmful ultraviolet radiation from permeating the skin. UV rays are composed of UVA (long-wave) and UVB (short-wave) rays, which can damage the skin, cause premature aging, and increase the risk of skin cancer with excess exposure.
UVB rays are what cause nasty sunburns while UVA rays, unfortunately, penetrate deep into the skin, resulting in wrinkles and signs of aging. UVA rays also amplify the carcinogenic effects of UVB rays and are the main culprit behind skin cancer. Bleh.
The SPF abilities in a product measure how effective it is at protecting the skin against UVB rays. SPF 15 guards against approximately 93% of UVB rays, SPF 30 covers 97%, and SPF 50 keeps out 98%.
But wait - what about UVA rays?
You may have noticed some sunscreens with the PA labeling system e.g. SPF 30/PA++.
PA is an indicator for the level of UVA protection in the sunscreen! It stands for Protection Grade of UVA rays, and many Asian brands have used this measure to indicate UVA protection because while some sunscreens say “broad spectrum” (i.e. covers both UVA and UVB rays), the SPF doesn’t indicate how strong UVA coverage is.
The amount of plus signs behind the PA tells us how strong the protection against UVA rays. The system is ranked on the Persistent Pigment Darkening (PPD) reaction reading after 2-4 hours of exposure.
PA+ is enough for someone who gets little sun exposure, PA++ provides moderate protection for someone with normal skin who gets medium sun exposure, and PA+++ is the best bet for people who constantly in the sun.
Which sunscreen should I choose?
While many products nowadays say “broad spectrum” coverage, just SPF isn’t a good indicator of how much protection from UVA rays in the product.
It’s critical not to neglect UVA ray coverage because it’s responsible for signs of aging and skin cancer, so look for ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Other ingredients in a good sunscreen are oxybenzone, avobenzone and mexoryl, and while there is some controversy surrounding these chemical ingredients, there is little evidence to prove they are a health risk yet plenty of evidence that prove their sun protection capabilities.
For people looking for a matte finish to their sun protection, we recommendMizon’s UV Mild Sun Block SPF 35/PA++. It forms a shield over your skin to block UV rays and pollution in the air, and the white cream magically disappears, leaving a matte finish perfect for summer - oily skin types, we’re looking at you!
Or if the heat is really getting to you, try Mizon’s UV Bounce Cushion Cream SPF 30/PA++. It’s fun, mousse-like texture instantly cools your skin on application and blends seamlessly - go ahead and put makeup over it! We especially love it’s cooling sensation to calm skin that’s starting to turn a bit red.
On the note of calming the skin, we always turn to Aromatica’s Damask Rose Soothing Gel. Rose is combined with super fruit extracts - we’re talking cranberry, blueberry, pomegranate, strawberry, orange & grape - to moisturize and relieve irritated skin. Needless to say, this rose gel always has a place in our fridge.
Sun tips to live by:
Apply 20 minutes before sun exposure.
Reapply every two hours, more frequently if you’re swimming or sweating.
Don’t forget your ears and neck.
Wear sunscreen everyday, no matter the weather.
Don’t forget to cover both UVB and UVA rays - look for PA++.