What is SPF and PA in sunscreen cream??

Many people may have seen SPF and PA values before, but they might not fully understand what they really are and whether high numbers truly have beneficial effects. Today, we will address these questions together.

What is SPF??

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor, which is a value that indicates the ability to protect the skin from UVB rays so that they do not damage the skin causing irritation or sunburn. The number after SPF is the value that indicates the effectiveness in protecting the skin from sunlight. Normally it ranges from 15 – 50+. The higher the SPF value, the longer it can protect the skin. However, a very high SPF may cause more skin irritation. But if there is no outdoor activity, a sunscreen with not too high SPF value can also be used.

It means that the quality of sunscreen does not depend on the SPF value alone. Other factors also need to be considered, such as UVA protection. Protection against UVA rays is essential as prolonged and continuous exposure can be harmful, potentially leading to skin aging, wrinkling, and even severe cases of skin cancer.

SPF and % UV protection

  • SPF 15 absorbs about 93.3% of UVB rays, suitable for those who have activities indoors, in buildings or houses, with no sun exposure at all, and those with medium or tan skin tones. At this level, if being exposed to excessive sunlight, it may cause slight skin redness.
  • SPF 30 absorbs about 96.7% of UVB rays, suitable for outdoor activities in shaded areas, not extremely hot weather, and those with fair to light tan skin tones.
  • SPF 50 can absorb about 98% of UVB rays, suitable for outdoor activities or places with intense sunlight, such as the beach.

What is PA ??

PA PA stands for Protection Grade of UVA or “UVA protection level”. It is a value that indicates the ability to protect the skin from ultraviolet A rays (UVA). UVA is a broad spectrum UV radiation that impacts the skin and causes inflammation or various types of allergies. It severely affects the skin’s integrity, resulting in wrinkles or premature aging, which is often seen on product packaging. It is usually followed after the SPF value and does not have a numeric value, but uses plus signs (+) to indicate the amount of protection provided. However, a very high PA value can make the sunscreen texture quite heavy.

  • PA+ It means low UV-A protection.
  • PA++ It means medium UV-A protection.
  • PA+++ It means high UV-A protection.
  • PA++++ It means very high UV-A protection.