Skin 101: All you need to know about your Sunscreen

Saturday, April 09, 2016

Hey girl!

Am I fully protected? That is now my question when I am reviewing any product with sunscreen. My curious mind once asked, what is the real relevance of every digit I've seen on my skincare products? Are they all the same? Does it mean if I have a sunscreen, I am protected? Do I need the highest possible SPF to be fully protected? I have a lot of questions just like you so I tried my best to make a little research on this topic. First of all, I am not an expert to say every facts are correct. The advancement in technologies helped us discovered something new every day so some statements may vary from one to another. However, all statements written are based on some articles I found on the net.

The sun emits ultraviolet radiation (UV) that reaches the earth. It is invisible to the naked eye because it has shorter wavelengths.

These wavelengths are classified as UVA, UVB, UVC. UVA and UVB are what we always see from our sunscreen products. I also didn't know that there is UVC too but this ultraviolet radiation doesn't reach the earth surface and was absorbed by the ozone layer.


They differ from the exact measurement of wavelength. UVA measures 320-400 nanometers UVB measures 290-320 nanometers. In short, UVA is the longest between the two.

What does these measurements mean?

These UV radiations are responsible for skin damage like premature aging and carcinoma of the skin. Since UVA has longer wavelength, it can penetrate the skin more deeply. It can also penetrate clouds and glass. It is believed that UVA is known to result skin aging,sagging, wrinkling and tanning.

On the other hand, UVB has the shorter but the most damaging wavelength. It mainly damage the superficial part of the skin. It is the major culprit in skin sunburn and said to play a role in causing skin cancer. Unlike UVA, these wavelength doesn't penetrate the glass.

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SPF and PA.

Now that we know that both UVA and UVB are harmful on our skin, we need protection from these both. Introducing, SPF (Sun Protecting Factor) the one that protects us from UVB and PA (Protection Grade of UVA) the one that protects us from UVA.

SPF. This is what we are all hyping for. The common misconception about SPF is that it is said to be the complete protection from the sun when in fact, it is just intended for UVB protection. It has a number that measures how long it will take for the UVB rays to redden the skin while using sunscreen. SPF 15 or higher do an excellent job in protecting our skin from UVB rays.

SPF15 = 93% of UVB rays
SPF30 = 97% of UVB rays
SPF50 = 98% of UVB rays

or if it normally takes you 10 minutes to burn without sunscreen

SPF15 x 10(constant) = 150minutes or 2 1/2 hours


Even when we can compute the hours we can spend under the sun, it is not an assurance of the protection that we get from our sunscreen because the sun exposure can vary considering the location, time of the day, season and weather.

PA. This is our main protector of the unseen damage under our skin. The PA which measures by the sign (+) indicates how much protection it can give for UVA ray. Remember that UVA can penetrate the clouds and glass so whether you feel protected on a cloudy day (you are not) or inside the office near the glass windows (you are not). The damage that isn't seen on our naked eye and penetrate deeply on our skin can be dreadful too.

PA+ some protection to UVA rays
PA++ moderate protection to UVA rays
PA+++ very good protective abilities against UVA rays
PA++++ (great protection against UVA? I don't know what it is called but I've seen some products available in the market)

You need to find.. 

There are active ingredients both physical and chemical that are found in sunscreen that addresses our need for UVA/UVB protection. Before, sunscreen labels are very confusing. Since people doesn't have enough knowledge on what to look for in a sunscreen, they confused that SPF alone is enough for their overall sun protection when indeed, it is not. Today, they labelled it with broad spectrum, multi spectrum sunscreen or UVA/UVB protection indicating the actual PA measurements with (+) sign. So, it is better to look for sunscreen that offer both UVA/UVB protection than a sunscreen with UVB protection only.

You need more than you think..

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You might think you are already fully protected since you have the SPF 15 or higher and broad spectrum sunscreen. To ensure that you get the most out of the sunscreen that you have, you need to apply at least an ounce (2 tbsp) of your sunscreen all over your body. The amount of product applied can drastically changed the actual protection you get from your sunscreen.

But this doesn't apply for those cosmetic products that has SPF on it, since you only needed what you actually need. On that note, you may not be getting the real SPF you think you have on your cosmetic product. In that case, you shouldn't be relying solely on one product alone instead use it together with other cosmetic product with SPF.

Another thing, some sunscreen needed to be applied at least 30 minutes before sun exposure while others have no waiting time.

Reapply, reapply!

Yes at least every 2 hours. Not until, you swim, towel or dive on the sand. You should reapply as often as necessary.

The higher the SPF, the better?

Many people believed including myself that having the higher SPF gives us freedom to go out under the sun all throughout the day without worry. While this is partially true, we have to know the other side of the story. That's what I thought until I read an article saying "Many scientists believe that there is insufficient evidence to show that products with SPF values higher than 50 provide greater protection than products with SPF values of 50" (source: It makes a lot of sense since SPF is just a measurement of the protection from UVB rays and we know little of the actual protection we have from the UVA which is more harmful. Also, even if you can top up your SPF game as high as 100, I bet it can't give equally protection on UVA. Moreover, to actually have a broad spectrum protection, the UVA should be atleast 1/3 of the UVB protection. In conclusion, SPF 50 together with PA+++ or PA++++ can already give the best protection we could  get from our suncreen. We need to reapply, anyway.

In fact,
SPF 50 = 98% UVB protection
SPF 100 = 99% UVB protection

Sunscreens are for summer..

During summer break, sunscreens are on the main stream on every store in the market. Another common mistake people made is applying sunscreen only during summer season when the sun strikes the highest or even worst when only at the beach specifically. Luckily, many skin care products nowadays are with SPF, SPF alone. And it means? we needed more protection. We know better now. We should be more cautious on the products that we needed especially we are living on a tropical country, like we meet Mr. Sun everyday.


It is really great to be protected but we have to know what is best for us and what we really needed to achieve the full protection we wanted. Sunscreens aren't affordable and we should wisely choose what to buy before it breaks your bank or your skin. We can't also say that prevalence of having skin cancer in Asian people are lower because the statistics agreed that everyone could be at risk.

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General rules

1. Keep away from the sun on its peak hours. (when the sun strikes around 10am-3pm) Time varies from one place to another and the season.

2. As much as possible, avoid tanning.

3. Cover up with clothing, sunglasses, umbrella, hats.

4. Use broad spectrum sunscreens with minimum of SPF 15 or higher.

5. Apply at least an ounce (2 tbsp) of sunscreen on the entire body.  Reapply as needed or every 2 hours.

6. Keep newborn out of the sun during peak hours.


Let's talk again on my next blog.
Yes, YOU lovely gorgeous.

Love yourself because you are beautiful.

Hugs and Kisses,
Princess Mikee

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  1. This is very timely information! I will be traveling all summer so I need to be careful with my sunscreen. Especially since I will be in sunny places like Portugal and Spain. I will remember what you say about applying sunscreen every 2 hours. Nothing ruins a trip like a sunburn!

  2. This is a good read on learning how sunscreen works. And yes, protecting one's self from the sun is not only during summer especially in a tropical country like us here. :)

  3. Wow! First blog I've read in a while that actually taught me a thing or two. :) I always thought too that the important sign that a sunscreen product will protect you from sunburn is a high SPF. OMG. Good thing I have not been under the sun for too long in any of our outings this summer, or I would be more toasted than I already am, haha. Thanks for this! I'll keep this in mind when buying a new sunscreen bottle at the store.

  4. Reapplying is really important. Picking the right sunscreen is paramount as well. Many sunscreens today contain toxic chemicals that have adverse effects. Educating ourselves is key, just because the number is higher doesn't mean we are protected. A pharmacist once told me it only means you don't have to apply it as much.

  5. VERY good and informative post . I live on a island with 350 days sunshine a year at least . People can't be warned and informed enough about the danger and damage too much sun can cause . If I see , and that pretty often , people walking around with raw meat on their shoulders makes me really wonder how much more info they need to start protecting themselves . Even little kids are running naked on the beach , the skin does not forget this !

  6. It is wise to check ingredients of Sunscreen before you buy it. For instance, the There are lot of cremes and oils that have avobenzone and oxybenzone, which are hormone disruptors and break down as exposed to sunlight. The safest, longest-lasting, and most effective sunscreens are mineral, not chemical, based and will have zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide.

  7. Very detailed post which I think one should really read. Skin care is a must, especially in summer. :) I am not a beach person but I am exposed with sun heavily due to work so I should keep these details deeply. Hehe

  8. This is great! So informative! I always put sunblock on every morning, normally SPF 30. But maybe I should go look for one that is broad spectrum.

  9. A timely information. We just went outside and it was so hot. Even the air was so uncomfortable. Felt sticky and once home, i was able to consume three glasses of water. Sun screen is really important to protect our skin against the sun.

  10. This is a good read. I have learnt a lot. I am also looking for a perfect brand that offers highest protection to skin and now I know what to do then whenever I try to shop for my skin care needs.

  11. Oh my God. This is really everything that I need to know about sunscreen. As for me who just really uses them but doesn't give them justice because I like bathing in the sun, I really can't un-know these facts. It gives me something to think about the next time I soak in some of that sun.