It’s almost summer, it’s skin cancer awareness month, and, oh yea, it’s always a good time to talk sunscreen. We have seen some (great) changes in our sunscreen labels starting in January, making them more honest and easy to understand. There is one rating included on some sunscreen labels that you might not recognize; the PA rating.
SPF measures how much protection is provided against UVB rays, or the sunburn rays. PA is a rating of the UVA protection of that product. UVA rays are the skin-aging rays and are also linked to serious skin cancers. There are three basic levels of protection; mild, moderate and high as indicated by + signs. The more “plus” the more protection, with +++ being the highest. This ranking system originated in Japanese products and has started to emerge in other markets as well. A higher PA rating tells you that your sunscreen is combatting leathery skin along with blocking more of the radiation that is linked to Melanoma.
Multiple Japanese products (along with familiar brands like Nivea, when marketed overseas) have this additional labeling. Just because our US products aren’t required to include the PA doesn’t mean they don’t have UVA protective ingredients. Physical blockers like Zinc and Titanium Dioxide block UVA rays as does Avobenzone/Parsol 1789 and several others. Keep your eyes peeled though, I think we will start to see more PA ratings in our products. Along with SPF and the active ingredient list, you will have one more way to compare sunscreens and choose the best for your needs.