What the Most Important Terms on Your Sunscreen Really Mean

We should all use sunscreen , but when it comes to choosing one, there is no clue to the tongue on the bottle, and SPF is not the only thing to look out for. Here’s a guide for other important points: UVA, UVB, and broad spectrum.

Most of us probably base our decisions on choosing one sunscreen over another based on SPF or Sun Protection Factor , which is an estimate of how effectively a sunscreen can shorten the time to sunburn . This is normal because the American Academy of Dermatology recommends SPF 30. SPF 15 is the absolute minimum , but after 15 the differences in sun protection become less and less significant.

Other terms you’ll find on a typical bottle of sunscreen usually include “UVB,” “UVA,” and “broad spectrum,” all of which refer to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun:

  • Ultraviolet A, or UVA: Known as “the rays of aging,” UVA can penetrate deep into the skin and increase the likelihood of skin aging, such as wrinkles and sun spots. Can pass through windows.
  • Ultraviolet B or UVB: Known as “burning rays”, UVB primarily causes sunburn. He cannot walk through the windows.
  • Broad Spectrum: When listed on the label, sunscreen is designed to protect against both UVA and UVB, meaning that when used (in addition to other sun protection protocols), you protect against sunburn and reduce your risk of skin cancer and skin aging. Unless stated on the label , sunscreen simply helps prevent sunburn .

In addition, FDA rules state that bottles cannot indicate that a product is waterproof or sweatproof as these terms are misleading. However, they may be waterproof . Waterproof sunscreens mean protection lasts 40 to 80 minutes while you’re in the water – the bottles should be clear. Whatever you buy, first and foremost , make sure that you are dealt the recommended amount.


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