How to Read and Decode Labels from Your Sunscreen?

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Sunscreen SPF 50

Lately, there is an increased awareness among people about the importance of sunscreen. People know very well that sunscreen is an essential product that must be used every day before going out to stay protected from the harmful rays of the sun. 

Due to this awareness, there is also an increased demand for sunscreen in the market. Skincare brands from all over the world have launched various kinds of sunscreen that cater to different people with different skincare needs. However, in this plethora of sunscreen products to choose from, it gets tough for most of us to decide which products to go with. We are here to help you understand the sunscreen products in the market so that you can make your decision easier.

Why is it important to read sunscreen labels?

You can know every single thing about sunscreen just by reading its labels. It is important to check if the sunscreen is FDA-approved and what are the ingredients mentioned in the product to know what purposes the product caters to. Below are the things that must be mentioned on the labels of sunscreens and what they mean.

  1. Broad Spectrum

A broad-spectrum sunscreen is a must as it provides you protection from both UVA rays and UVB rays. You must look for the words “broad spectrum” on the label of the sunscreen before purchasing a product. The harmful UVA rays are considered to cause long-term damage to the skin, they can cause early aging, and wrinkles on the skin and also play a role in some skin cancers. On the other hand, the UVB rays from the sun are considered more potent that cause skin peeling, blisters, redness, swelling, itching, breaking out into hives, permanent discoloration of the skin, and skin cancers. So, a broad-spectrum sunscreen always helps you to stay fully protected from all the UV rays, especially in hot, humid, and tropical countries like India.

Sunscreen for Children

  1. SPF Level

The SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. It is a level that indicates the ability of a sunscreen to protect the skin against the harmful UVB rays that causes sunburn. A higher SPF provides better protection from UVB rays. A sunscreen with SPF-30 blocks around 97% of UVB rays, whereas a sunscreen with SPF-50 blocks around 98% of UVB rays. 

You must keep applying sunscreen every 3-4 hours to stay fully protected from the sun. Sunscreen is so important that even if you use an SPF 15 daily, the chances of developing squamous cell carcinoma which is a type of cancer that exists on the surface of the skin, reduces by almost 40%, and melanoma which is cancer that develops inside the body reduces by almost 50%.

Taking the necessary precautions before going out in the sun is the best way to prevent skin cancers caused due to sun exposure. Opt for a sunscreen with at least SPF 30 or more like an SPF 50 to stay protected.

  1. PA+ rating

Unlike an SPF rating (which provides a measure for the level of protection from UVB rays), a PA+ rating on a sunscreen indicates its capacity to protect our skin from harmful UVA rays. PA stands for “Protection Grade of UVA,” which is followed by plus signs such as PA+, PA++, PA+++, and PA++++. It is a rating system developed in Japan for people to understand the level of protection from UVA rays a sunscreen provides. 

  • PA+ = Some UVA protection.

  • PA++ = Moderate UVA protection.

  • PA+++ = High UVA protection.

  • PA++++ = Extremely High UVA protection.

  1. Water Resistant 

A water-resistant sunscreen protects against harmful sun rays even when your skin comes in contact with the water. So, it is suggested that if you plan to go for a swim on the beach or the pool or if it is a humid day and you are about to sweat a lot or if there is a possibility of rain during the day, wear a sunscreen that has “water-resistant” written on its label to stay fully protected from the sun. 

  1. Active Ingredients

The active ingredients are the main substance that makes sunscreen. It determines the power of sunscreen to protect the skin. Some of the active ingredients mostly found in sunscreen include Suncat DE, Zinc Oxide, Titanium Dioxide, Avobenzone, and Octinoxate. Any sunscreen that mentions any one or more of these ingredients on its label, makes up for a good sunscreen. These ingredients make a sunscreen broad spectrum and you can choose any product among them. 

  1. Tinted/ normal sunscreen

Both tinted and normal sunscreens provide an equal amount of protection from the sun. However, the difference is that a normal sunscreen may come in various forms such as creams, gels, sprays, lotions, etc. and a tinted sunscreen comes in only cream form. A normal sunscreen can cater to various skin types as a variety of options can be found in the market but it does not provide any added coverage that a tinted sunscreen can provide. A tinted sunscreen can be easily used as makeup during the day without the requirement of applying any additional makeup products on top.

  1. Application Instructions

For optimum results, it is best to follow the instructions mentioned on the label for application. However, it is advised that we should apply sunscreen at least 15 to 30 minutes before going out in the sun and we must keep reapplying the sunscreen every 3-4 hours or after swimming or sweating. 

Best Sunscreen in India

  1. Expiry Date

Like most products, sunscreens also have an expiry date. Most sunscreens in the market provide an expiry period of 3 years from the date of manufacturing but it is always better to check the expiry date mentioned in the packaging to be sure as sometimes the expiry date may differ depending on the brand. 

By understanding these key elements, you can choose a sunscreen that provides the best protection for your skin and apply it correctly for optimal effectiveness.

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