Sun Care Glossary

Choosing the right sun care products can be a confusing process. This is complicated even further by the labels seeming to be written in a foreign language. Following is a list of common terms on sun care products and just what they mean.

  • Broad Spectrum – There are two types of ultraviolet rays emitted by the sun that may be harmful to human skin. A broad spectrum sunscreen or sunblock protects against both types.

  • SPF – The Sun Protection Factor, SPF, measures how well a sunblock or sunscreen deflects UVB rays. This is determined by measuring how long it takes for skin treated with the protectant to develop sunburn as compared to how long it takes unprotected skin to burn. However, SPF over 50 has only a minimal increase in protection. Many experts believe SPF 30 is adequate, as long the sunscreen/sunblock is applied thoroughly and reapplied as needed, and that using broad spectrum protection is more important seeking a higher SPF.

  • Sunblock – A thick formula that reflects the sun’s rays off of the skin, preventing the rays from being absorbed.Sunblock often has a thick consistency that may make it more difficult to spread evenly over the body.

  • Sunscreen – A lightweight formula that filters many rays from the sun before they can be absorbed by the skin. This form of protection is typically less visible than sunblock once it has been applied to the skin. Sunscreen is more commonly available than sunblock. Sunscreens often contain ingredients to which people may be sensitive or allergic, which may force certain people to seek out sunblock.

  • UVA – UVA rays are the ultraviolet rays that may age skin prematurely, leading to wrinkles and age spots. These rays may increase one’s risk of developing skin cancers.

  • UVB – UVB rays are the ultraviolet rays that may cause skin to burn. These rays may increase one’s risk of developing skin cancers.


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