Friday, April 18th, 2008

Protecting yourself from the sun is essential. With as much research out, it is no longer an optional step in your beauty routine. Most of understand that anti-aging creams are not nearly as effective as taking preventative steps that reduce aging rather than attempting to reverse what has already occurred.

UVA & UVB? UVA damage occurs in shortwave (320 to 340nm) and long-wave (340 to 400nm), while UVB occurs between 280 to 320 nm. UVA tends to penetrate into the skin, while UVB damages the top layer of skin.

Common Ingredients for UVA Protection: Avobenzone, Ecamsule (Mexoryl SX), Zinc Oxide; Titanium gives some, but not the entire range of the spectrum

Common Ingredients for UVB Protection: Octyl methoxycinnamate, octyl salicylate, octocrylene

Ingredient to watch for: Zinc Oixide provides protection against short and long UVA as well as UVB. Avobenzone protects against UVA, while oxybenzone only protects against short wave UVA and titanium dioxide protects up to 385nm (of 400nm).

Caution: SPF is a measure of UVB protection, NOT UVA. In fact, many sunscreens labeled “broad spectrum UVA/UVB” do not protect against the entire UVA spectrum (short and long waves).

Ingredients known for sun protection:

  • Octocrylene is an organic compound used in sunscreens.
  • Oxybenzone is a derivative of Benzophenone and an organic compound often used in sunscreens.
  • Octisalate is a chemical suncreen ingredient that blocks UVB.
  • Homosalate is an organic compound used in sunscreens to absorb ultraviolet rays.
  • Avobenzone is an oil soluble ingredient that may also go by Parsol 1789, Eusolex 9020, Escalol 517.
  • Octyl methoxycinnamate or octinoxate is an organic compound used for sun protection.
  • Octyl salicylate is an organic compound used in sunscreens. It absorbs ultraviolet light.
  • Dioxybenzone is an organic compound used to block UVB, derivative of benzophenone.
  • Titanium Dioxide is used in sunscreen, and it is often used to because of its high refractive index.

How effective is your SPF? Calculate how long you can stay in the sun with your sunscreen.

Discussion and debate are highly encouraged, and we expect community members to participate respectfully. When asking a question, please check the FAQ section (above) for information about purchasing, price, dupes, and the like. If you have general feedback or need technical support, please contact us.

Comments that include advertisements, self-promotion, insults, etc. may be in violation of our comment policy and subject to deletion. Please see our comment policy for more information.

11 thoughts on “Sunscreen 101: What protects what? UVA ingredients, UVB ingredients, broad spectrum! What you need to know!

  1. plee

    According to this analysis from Environmental Working Group (EWG), findings of the CDC study indicate that Oxybenzone reacts negatively with sun exposure and have negative impacts on our bodies such as:

    – triggering possible allergic reactions by sun exposure.
    – forming free radical chemicals that may be linked to cell damage.
    – disrupting the hormone system.
    – absorbing through the skin in significant amounts.
    – accumulating in the fatty tissues in the body for many days.
    – helping other chemicals penetrate the skin.

  2. Helioplex works to protect against uva and uvb. neutrogena makes a GREAT sunscreen with helioplexl.

    xoxo,
    beauty banter