Things to Know Before Buying a Sunscreen


22 May 2019

By Amy Ho

One of the things Malaysia is well known for is the scorching hot weather, and with that comes the blazing rays of the sun. Living in an all year round sunny country, sun protection is essential as an overexposure of ultraviolet rays to the skin can be harmful. We’ve put together a list of must-knows before you add sunscreens to your to-buy list!

What exactly is SPF?

SPF is short for Sun Protection Factor. It is a relative measure of how long a product can protect you from UVB rays. To break it down: if your unprotected skin starts to turn red in 20 minutes, an SPF 15 sunscreen theoretically prevents reddening 15 times longer, which in this case is about five hours.

What Does the PA+ Sunscreen Symbol Mean?

PA represents how much UVA protection a product offers. It is a Japanese measurement ranking simplifies and groups ratings from a Persistent Pigment Darkening (PPD) test. How does it work? PA+ stands for a sunscreen with a PPD of 2 to less than 4, PA++ one with PPD of 4 to 8, PA+++ from 8 to 16 and, finally, PA++++ those with a PPD of 16 or greater. To make it less complicated: the more plus signs on your product, the better.

Does a higher SPF protect my skin better?

We hate to break this up to you, but all the SPF slathered on your skin would not serve its purpose if you skip the reapplication. No sunscreen, regardless of strength, should be expected to stay effective longer than two hours without reapplication.

What type of sunscreen should I use?

The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends always using a minimum of SPF 15 for everyday activities, and SPF of 30 or higher for any extended outdoor activities which require long hours in the sun. Keep an eye out for sunscreens offering a broad-spectrum coverage to protect your skin against both the UVA and UVB rays.

Always bear in mind that no sunscreen can block all UV rays. Never rely on high-SPF sunscreens alone; seeking shade and covering yourself with clothing are also a few ways to protect your skin.

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