UVB is different from UVA, and SPF from PA
With or without sunshine, and whether it is hot or not, sunscreens must be a staple in a person’s everyday skincare regimen. Unfortunately, many find it difficult to choose the right products, what with the confusing acronyms on the packaging, not to mention various numbers and plus symbols.
So what do SPF, PA, UVA, and UVB really mean?
With the help of Dr. Clarisse Mendoza, a dermatologist and resident skin care expert for Neutrogena Philippines, The Manila Times decodes today the all-important sunscreen, most especially with the harsh rays of the summer sun upon everyone.
Speaking at an awareness event at the Manila Polo Club in Makati City, Mendoza defined SPF as Sun Protected Factor. The number beside it, which can range from as low as 15 to as high as 50, measures how well a sunscreen protects the skin from getting sunburn, which is caused primarily by UVB.
UVB is a type of ultraviolet (UV) rays that penetrate the outer layers of skin namely epidermis and dermis, thus cause skin cells damage. But while UVB sounds harmful enough, UVA is worse for according to Mendoza, it is the type that penetrates deep down the hypodermis.
“UVA has a longer wavelength and can pass through window glass!” she revealed further warning, “It also contributes to premature signs of aging including fine lines and wrinkles. Too much exposure can play part in the formation of skin cancer.”
This is where PA+++ comes in. PA, or Protection Factor, determines a sunscreen’s broad spectrum and photo-stability.
To explain the significance of PA, Mendoza said that UVA protection begins to break down the moment the skin is exposed to sun. This is particularly true with Avobenzone, which is the most highly approved but unstable UVA sunscreen ingredient by FDA.
Thankfully, sunscreen brands with have already addressed this problem, and one of them is Neutrogena.
Its best-selling Neutrogena Ultra-Sheer SPF50+ and PA+++ offers the Helioplex technology.
“Neutrogena was among the first in the US market to introduce sun protection in which Avobenzone was stabilized using Oxybenzone effectively providing stronger and longer protection from harmful UVA rays,” shared Mendoza.
Once assured of a sunscreen’s superior protection, Mendoza then related that there are also different sunscreens for different needs.
For example, the Neutrogena Ultra-Sheer Waterlight Lotion is perfect for the face thanks to its formula that can serve as primer for makeup like liquid and powder foundations.
On the other hand, the other variant called Ultra-Dry Sunscreen is suited for everyday use for it leaves a clean, lightweight and non-shiny finish. Moreover, it works up to three times better and lasts longer compared to other sunblock lotions.
Nevertheless, both are guaranteed SPF50+ and PA+++ making them effective for summer outings and other adventures.