Have you ever noticed PA+++ rating in the sunscreens along with SPF level? Some people might have just ignored while, some confused. Everyone have knowledge about the SPF (Sun Protection Factor) but what does PA+++ actually indicate. Well the answer is simple; SPF indicates the level of protection from UVB rays while PA indicates the level of protection from UVA rays. Recent brands of sunscreen, especially the Asian ones, may have created confusion among the people.
PA simply means Protection Grade of UVA rays. Asian brands of sunscreen, especially Japanese sunscreen brands use the Protection Grade of UVA (PA) system to measure the sun protection factor (SPF) of a sunscreen. This Japanese measurement ranking which is now widely used, is based on the Persistent Pigment Darkening (PPD) reaction reading at 2-4 hours of sun exposure. Protective grade of sunscreen is often leveled as PA+, PA++, PA+++ with the more plus sign the more protection from UVA rays.
According to the Japan Cosmetic Industry Association UVA protection factor for each grading of PA are listed below:
PA+ means the sunscreen can provide UVA protection with factor of Persistent Pigment Darkening (PPD) between two to four. It can provide the protection of medium UV radiation.
Sunscreen labeled with PA++ can provide moderate protection against UVA rays with a factor of PPD between four and eight. It is ideal for normal skin individual exposed to medium UV radiation.
PA+++ is designed for normal skin that expose to very strong UV radiation. It provides good UVA protection with a factor of PPD of more than 8. It is the highest grade of UVA protection currently available.
Although many products in the market are labeled as “broad-spectrum” they do not give effective protection against UVA rays. UVA protection is better achieved by products containing zinc oxide. UVB just causes sunburn while UVA causes permanent aging of the skin and even increase risk of skin cancer. So it is important to strictly use sunscreen that protects from both UVA and UVB radiation.
To achieve maximum protection from both UVA and UVB, always look for broad spectrum sunscreen that contains zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Other ingredients to look for are oxybenzone, avobenzone and mexoryl. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen at-least 20 minutes before going out. Always apply sunscreen throughout the year, not just the summer months.