When it comes to choosing the right sunscreen, you may have come across labels with numbers like SPF and PA++++. But what do these numbers mean and how do they affect how well the sunscreen protects your skin?
Let’s dive into what SPF and PA ratings mean and why they're important for protecting your skin from the sun's harmful rays.
What is SPF?
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and is a measure of how well a sunscreen product will protect your skin from UVB rays. UVB rays are the primary cause of sunburn and are responsible for damaging the DNA in your skin cells.
The higher the SPF number, the more protection the sunscreen will provide. For example, an SPF 15 sunscreen will block about 93% of UVB rays, while an SPF 30 sunscreen will block about 97% of UVB rays.
It's important to note that while the difference in protection between SPF 30 and SPF 50 sunscreens is only about 1%, there is still 1% fewer UVB rays that get through! If you are frequently exposed to the sun, this 1% can compound.
What is PA rating?
In addition to SPF, you may also see a PA rating on sunscreen labels. PA stands for Protection Grade of UVA Rays and is a measure of how well a sunscreen product will protect your skin from UVA rays.
UVA rays are the primary cause of skin aging and contribute to the development of skin cancer.
Unlike UVB rays, UVA rays can penetrate deep into the skin and cause damage at a cellular level.
The PA rating system was developed in Japan and uses plus signs to indicate the level of UVA protection. The more plus signs, the higher the level of protection.
- PA+: Low protection
- PA++: Moderate protection
- PA+++: High protection
- PA++++: Very high protection - this is what Dp Dermaceuticals Barrier Body Butter has!
It's important to choose a sunscreen with a high PA rating to ensure that you're getting adequate protection from UVA rays.
How to choose the right sunscreen
It’s important to consider both the SPF and the PA rating. A high SPF will protect your skin from UVB rays, while a high PA rating will protect your skin from UVA rays.
You should also consider the type of sunscreen that's right for your skin type and the activities you'll be doing. For example, if you have sensitive skin, you may want to choose a sunscreen that is formulated for sensitive skin. Similarly, if you'll be participating in water activities, you may want to choose a waterproof sunscreen.
It's also important to apply enough sunscreen and to reapply it every two hours, or immediately after swimming or sweating. A general rule of thumb is to use about one ounce (or a shot glass full) of sunscreen for every application.
Final Thoughts on SPF and PA
SPF and PA ratings are important indicators of how well a sunscreen will protect your skin from the sun's harmful UV rays. When choosing a sunscreen, be sure to consider both the SPF and PA rating, as well as the type of sunscreen that's right for your skin type and activities.
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