Do you have the right sunscreen to protect your skin from the damaging rays of the sun? Fret not, because in this post, we’ll talk about sun protection and what you need to know about broad spectrum sunscreen. What is broad spectrum you ask? The answer to that question has to do with not one, but two sets of rays that travel from the sun all the way to Earth. These are known as UVB and UVA rays.
NOT JUST ABOUT SPF
When I was a kid, it was all about SPF and the number that followed it – with the higher digits equalling to more protection. Well, it’s more like half the truth.
You see, the SPF label only measures a sunscreen’s capability to protect your skin against UVB rays. This particular form of light is what causes sunburn, as well as playing a part in premature aging and potentially, skin cancer.
A broad spectrum sunscreen gives protection against both UVB and UVA rays. The latter of which is the primary force behind skin aging and cancer. Over 95% of all UV radiation that reaches us is UVA rays.
IT’S ALL IN THE LABEL
Now that you know the importance of a broad spectrum sunscreen, you need to know what to find on a bottle. If you are researching for sunblocks that are made in North America, you want something that has at least SPF 15 with the word “broad spectrum” clearly printed. In most cases, you will find the SPF rating and broad spectrum markings together, but that’s not always the case. Review the bottle carefully and if you fail to see it anywhere in the front of the bottle, just ignore it and move on to the next brand.
THE PA RATING
Another form of UVA protection rating is known as PA. It is the official Japanese measurement for UVA protection, which is also used in South Korea. With products from both countries growing in popularity each year, it is important to know how this rating system works.
The letters PA are followed by one to three + signs. The higher the number of + signs, the more protection you will get from UVA rays. In essence, a product with a PA rating is equivalent to broad spectrum protection.
The difference lies in the PA system rating, which tells you how much UVA protection it provides, whereas a sunscreen labeled with only broad spectrum denotes that it has UVA protection.
Check out some of our favorite sunscreens that we have been using for years. All have an SPF rating higher than 15 and are a broad spectrum/PA-certified:
Front and center is COTZ’s statement of their Sensitive sunscreen being 100% free of chemicals, preservatives, and oils. This is key to it being dermatologist recommended, which is a saving grace to those born with sensitive skin or eczema, like myself and my little one. It’s also water-resistant up to 40 minutes, making CoTZ Sensitive the ideal sunscreen for when dipping in the beach, pool, or when performing outdoor activities that will lead to heavy sweating.
Yes, you need sunscreen during the winter as well. UVA rays, unfortunately, don’t take a vacation and are present throughout the year. Calm Redness Relief by Paula’s Choice gives both sun protection and moisturizes your skin. Blistering cold weather and repeating changes in humidity throughout the day ( heated office, cold outside, to heated coffee shop, etc.) is the cause of cracked skin during the winter months. Why not protect your skin from both the sun and dryness?
One of my husband’s favorites due to its ease of use. When looking to get the family quickly out the door in time for dinner reservations, he grabs our bottle of Coola Sport – an organic spray by the way – and proceeds to dose us in a mist of sun protection. Coola also made it water resistant, which is perfect when the kids are too eager when it comes to pool time.
- SunBelievable Perfect Sun Cream by CLIO (SPF 50+ PA+++)
By far the creamiest of the bunch, SunBelievable by Clio has easily become our favorite due to its consistency and that a little goes a long way. It is lightly scented and does not leave a white cast despite its consistency.
If you are planning an extended stay at the beach, a few hours at a pool resort, or finally trekking the mountain pass you’ve always wanted, Lancome Bienfait UV just might become your new BFF. It carries an SPF rating of 50+ and is water resistant for 80 minutes. That means less time reapplying sunscreen and more time for having fun with your family or friends.
What sunscreen are you currently using? Do you have a few favorites? Share with us!