It’s a good habit to protect your skin from the sun even at the height of winter. The sun may be hidden behind the thickest of clouds at this time of the year, but it’s still highly likely that your skin is being exposed to its harmful rays.
To defend yourself against the effects of excessive sun exposure, such as wrinkles, sunspots, and increased risk of getting skin cancer, you have to put on sun protection regardless of the season. There are tons of skincare products available online and in stores, which makes the job easier. But with the plethora of products that claim to protect your skin from the sun, how do you know which works best for you?
Just like any other skincare product, different sun protection creams and lotions are also designed to suit certain skin types, activities, or lifestyles. Maybe you’ve wondered why you still get sunburnt despite applying a trusted sunscreen brand. It could be that your skin isn’t responding well to the product, or you may be using it differently from its intended use. One way to help you choose a product that works for you is by getting familiar with the labels used in your sun protection lotion.
Check the Label
There are a lot of acronyms and abbreviations that can be found on your lotion’s label. Among the most common are:
- UV in UV Protection – UV stands for ultraviolet light. It is a type of electromagnetic radiation produced by the sun and other artificial sources. While UV is invisible to the eyes, it is a major cause of sunburn and eye damage. Also, too much exposure to UV light can increase your risk of developing skin cancer. UV protection simply means that an item, whether it is a lotion, umbrella, or a pair of sunglasses, is designed to block or screen UV rays.
- UVA and UVB – These acronyms refer to different types of UV light: A and B. These 2 types differ in length. UVA is longer and penetrates the skin more deeply, causing the skin to lose its elasticity. UVA makes up 95% of the UV radiation that reaches the surface of the earth, and it is 30 to 50 times more prevalent than UVB. UVA can penetrate clouds and glass, so you have to watch out for it even in the cloudiest of days. Exposure to the shorter UVB is by no means safer. UVB is responsible for sunburns and skin reddening, and it can also cause skin cancer.
- SPF – SPF is short for sun protection factor, a measurement used to indicate how long your sunscreen will protect you from UV rays. To measure the effects of SPF, you need to first know the number of minutes that you can stay under the sun before your skin starts to burn. Multiply your personal time with your lotion’s SPF and you’ll find out just how long your lotion can protect you from the sun’s harmful rays.
- PA+++ - PA stands for protection grade of UVA rays. Asian brands, especially those based in Japan, use PA to measure the SPF factor of a sunscreen. The more plus (+) signs you see, the more protection you get. Aside from sunscreens, the PA label is used in a wide variety of everyday skincare and cosmetic products, like this water-resistant compact cushion by COSRX.
Sunscreens VS Sun Blocks VS Suntans
Sun protection jargon has changed over the years, and some of the words you know may no longer be actively used in sun protection products. A sunscreen is a topical product that comes in lotion, spray, or gel form. It absorbs or reflects some UV radiation, strengthening your protection against sunburn and other skin problems caused by the sun. Sunblock and suntan, on the other hand, are no longer considered as proper sun-protection products. The term sunblock was banned by the FDA because it can lead consumers to overestimate the product’s effectiveness. However, the term is still used colloquially by a lot of people. Suntans have an SPF reading of lower than 15, so they can’t exactly protect you from the effects of UV rays. What is considered as tanning products today are those that accelerate the skin’s tanning or darkening.
Now that you know the meaning behind your sun protection product’s labels, you can confidently purchase the right product that will let you fearlessly walk under the sun.
[This is a sponsored post / Photos credit: YesStyle.com]