You have probably heard talk of the new UVA recommendations for sunscreen. Better protection is a good thing, but what is UVA protection?
Let's start off by covering the difference between UVA and UVB rays. UV rays are radiation that reaches earth from the sun. UVB rays are the ones that cause damage to the upper most layers of the skin, resulting in sunburn. In the US, the SPF number on a sunscreen determines how much protection the product provides against UVB rays.
UVA rays penetrate to the deeper layers of skin causing DNA damage, and are responsible for longer term damage like wrinkles, sunspots, and even skin cancer. And the percentage of UVA rays reaching the earth is a whopping 98.7%, with UVB making up the rest. UVA protection in a sunscreen should be one third of the product's total SPF, according to the new Colipa European sunscreen recommendations. The US currently has no UVA requirements.
Now that you know the difference between UVA and UVB and why you want to protect your skin from them, you may be wondering what exactly provides protection from UVA rays.
Mineral sunscreen, like zinc oxide, provides the most effective defense against UVA rays. The minerals form a barrier on the skin, reflecting both UVA and UVB rays. Another advantage to using a mineral sunscreen is that it is effective immediately upon application — and of course non-nanoparticle mineral sunscreen is the safest sunscreen for you to use.
TRUE Natural Sunscreens provide serious sun protection against UVA and UVB rays — in vitro tests indicate UVA / UVB protection ratios as .75 for the Active SPF 40 and .84 for Daily Moisturizer SPF 20. European Colipa requirements are that UVA / UVB protection ratio be .33. For example, a European sunscreen with an SPF 30 UVA label will provide UVB protection of SPF 30 and UVA protection of SPF 10.