Sunscreen, Foundation and PA+++ Discussed by Traci Drury

In a previous post about sunscreen (read here) one of our readers, Bijousmere, had a couple of questions/comments which inspired this post.  The first is a question I hear frequently, and the next two are questions from Bijousmere which are also very common.

Is it better to wear sunscreen a high SPF and why should I look for Broad Spectrum?

You’re not getting better protection by using the highest SPF you can find.  When properly applied, SPF 15 blocks approximately 93% of UVB rays while SPF 30 blocks about 97% and SPF 50 about 98%.  I recommend wearing at least SPF 30 every day – head to toe.  Broad Spectrum means you will have protection from UVA and UVB rays.

When I wear Foundation with SPF am I getting enough coverage or should I also wear a separate sunscreen?

When wearing foundation with an SPF it’s important to apply a separate sunscreen (before the foundation).  We don’t usually apply enough foundation for sufficient coverage like we do with sunscreen or moisturizer with sunscreen.

What is PA and PA+++?

So what does “PA” mean and what are all the plus symbols?  Bear with me.  SPF protects against UVB rays (that cause sunburn).  PA refers to the amount of protection against UVA rays (long term damage) and each plus sign indicates the level of protection against UVA rays (PA+++ being the highest).  UVA rays are more damaging than UVB rays, and is linked to skin cancer (although I’ve recently read that UVB rays may also be a contributor to skin cancer).  PA ratings are mainly used in asian products, including some that are sold in the US.

If you only remember that SPF means the product has sunscreen, that it’s best to wear at least SPF 30 and to look for “Broad Spectrum” then you’re in good shape.  Anything else is a bonus!

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