We’re finally getting some sunshine in NYC! We should all be wearing sunscreens but do we know how to read them? By now, I hope you all know what SPF stands for, (Sun Protection Factor) but have you been noticing the PA+, PA++ & PA+++ lately? What do these mean?
First, the number associated with the SPF is the number of times longer that you will be protected from burning than you would be without sunscreen. But this only refers to your protection time from UVB rays with no protection level from UVA rays.
What’s the difference between UVB & UVA rays?
UVB rays are Ultraviolet B rays often called the burning rays, because it is the most associated with sunburns. These rays are what most sunscreens claimed protection from.
For protection from premature aging, however, it is important to pay attention to UVA or Ultraviolet A rays. These are long waves that are less intense than UVB rays, but these rays can penetrate through clouds and glass and reach the deeper dermal layers of skin and can damage your skin’s collagen and elastin causing premature aging.
So what does PA+++ mean? PA is a Korean/Japanese rating system in place that shows how much protection you are getting from UVA rays. You will see either PA+, PA++, or PA+++ on the label, with more + signs meaning a higher level of UVA protection. If there are no PA ratings, look for sunscreen products labeled “broad spectrum” or “full spectrum,” covering both UVA and UVB rays.
Whew! That explains it. We should all be wearing sunscreens with both SPF & PA ratings to protect from UVA & UVB rays. Remember, Excessive exposure to either type of UV ray (or both) is thought to contribute to and/or can cause skin cancer.
*Source: Milady Fundamentals of Esthetics