What You Should Know when Choosing Sun Protection Products
Everyone needs sun protection all year round. Still, it’s better to pick a sun protection product that best fits the season and the particular activities you will be taking part in. There are a lot of sunblocks, sunscreens, and other products out there that are designed to protect you against the rays of the sun, and you need to carefully consider each before buying an item that suits your needs and preferences.
For example, if you want something that will keep you from getting sunburned while swimming, then you should go with a water-resistant product. But if you want sun protection for everyday use, then a product like MIZON’s UV Sun Protector Cream SPF50 PA++ should give you adequate protection without leaving a sticky residue. There are also lotions, lip balms, and hair products that offer a measure of protection against the harmful rays of the sun.
Definition of terms
Aside from knowing why you’re buying sun protection beforehand, it also pays to know the level of protection a particular item offers. Here are some of the terms that you’ll often find in these types of products:
Sunblock. As the name suggests, sunblocks work as a physical barrier that protects the skin from the sun’s rays. They often contain zinc or titanium oxide, which forms a protective layer on the surface of the skin and prevents UVB rays from getting through. Sunblocks are often thicker and more visible, and they can also have ingredients that block pores and cause acne. On the plus side, zinc and titanium oxide won’t irritate sensitive skin. Also, most sunblocks are water resistant.
Sunscreen. Unlike sunblocks that work like a physical barrier, sunscreens work by absorbing majority of UVA rays before they reach the skin. Most sunscreens contain avobenzene and oxybenzene, which can sometimes cause skin irritation. Sunscreens have the consistency of a regular lotion, not to greasy or thick, and thus can be used even if you’re applying makeup. As they don’t offer intense sun protection like sunblocks do, it’s best to look for products that work as both sunblock and sunscreen, or those that offer broad spectrum.
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Broad spectrum. Broad spectrum or multi-spectrum protection refers to products that offer protection against both UVA and UVB.
UVA. UVA is one of the types of rays in the UV spectrum that damages the skin cells. UVA damage leads to tanning, as well as wrinkles and other signs of skin ageing. Products that protect against the effects of UVA carry the term broad spectrum.
UVB. Like UVA, UVB also damages the skin and causes sunburn. More than that, it plays a key role in developing skin cancers. The SPF determines the level of protection a product offers against UVB.
SPF. A product’s SPF or sun protection factor determines how long it will take for the sun’s UV rays to redden the skin while using the said product compared to if you’re not using it. For example, a product with SPF 15 will give you 15 times more protection than if you’re not wearing it. Those with fair and very fair skin that never tan or tan minimally are recommended to use products with SPF 30 or higher, while those with darker skin are recommended to use products with lower SPF.
PA+. The PA rating system was developed in Japan to represent how much UVA protection a particular product offers. The more plus signs there are after the PA, the more protection it offers. PAs can have as few as 1 to as many as 4 plus signs after it. Unlike the SPF system which is time related, the PA system is measured according to how UVA rays darken the skin’s complexion.
Now that you know what the label in your sunscreen or sunblock means, you’ll have an easier time looking for a product that will provide you with adequate sun protection.