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20 March 2012

All About SPF and PA

It's been so long since I wrote my last post.  I got so busy with our thesis and other school stuff so, now that I'm back, I decided to post about  SPF and PA which we usually see on beauty and skin care products that we use.

If you are aware on the skin care & make-up products that you are buying or using such as body lotion, moisturizer, creams ,sunscreen, foundation, tint & the talk-of-the-town, BB creams, you might have noticed that there's something written like a specific number of SPF and/or level of PA or both. If you are just a 'newbie' on skin care regimen then you might wonder what does SPF and PA stands for.


Sun Protection Factor or simply 'SPF' is a measurement of how much protection the product offers from the UVB rays. The number you see associated with SPF represents the length of time you can stay out in the Sun without burning, multiplied by the corresponding number. So if your skin normally starts to burn in 10 minutes, a UV sunscreen of SPF 15 would allow you to stay out in the sun 15 times longer. Then 10 minutes multiplied by the number of SPF,which is 15,  means you could have 150 minutes of sun protection. But you have to remember that there are several factors to consider such as the clothes you are wearing, what time you are  and how long you are exposed under the sun and so much more. 


SPF will protect our skin from sun damage, specifically from the UVB which causes sunburns, disrupts the normal functioning of the immune system, uneven pigmentation, wrinkles, tough skin texture or even worse skin cancer. Most of the UVB get absorbed by the ozone layer in the atmosphere. However, the amount falling on earth are considered to be sufficient to cause the given harm. 


People are now aware of SPF and its importance but the question is which level is appropriate.  We know that the SPF number stands for how long a person wearing sun protection can stay in the sun before they start to burn.  According to a study by the FDA, an SPF 15 can provide approximately 93% protection from the sun, while an SPF 60 provides approximately 98%. No matter which level of sunscreen you are using, Reapply every two hours. Perspiration and water can wear off even waterproof formulas and once sun protection is on the skin, the bonds begin to breakdown the instant it is exposed to sunlight. Avoid the sun between 10am –2pm, when the rays are the strongest and Wear protective clothing, such as hats and cover-ups, especially for those with sensitive skin.

As a guideline, appropriate SPF levels are:

  • ·SPF 20 or lower – ideal for everyday use with minimal sun exposure, such as walking down the street or driving in a car to work. Although working indoors may seem harmless, UV lights from fluorescent lighting can still affect the skin, so an SPF is still necessary.
  • SPF 30 or higher – ideal when spending 2 or more hours outdoors, even on a cloudy day, since clouds don’t block UV rays. This level is important for those who work outdoors, such as gardeners or lifeguards, and those who play outdoor sports. 

 Note: The above numbers can vary for each person, especially due to factors such as an individual’s sensitivity to sun or advice from a dermatologist. Also, when working indoors, re-applying SPF is not as crucial as when being outdoors, and some people who use a 30 or 40 for every day use can continue as long as their skin doesn't break out or become irritated.


PA – Abbreviation for Protection Grade of UVA established by the Japanese. It basically informs users of  the level of protection towards UVA rays .  

PA+ means the sunscreen provides some protection against UVA rays.

 PA++ indicates moderate protection while 

PA+++ shows very good protective abilities against UVA rays. Since UVA causes long term skin damage, it is therefore advisable to go for sunscreens with the highest PA rating. 

UVA represents 90% of the total UVR reaching the earth's surface. It penetrates and causes skin damage such as dryness, wrinkles and color damage. It also penetrates most deeply into the eyes and can cause degeneration of the retina.

Start caring for your skin. Always remember ..  Prevention is better than cure. 

Sources: CarefairBuzzleBeauty IngredientBeautyficient and Skin Care Club

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