Sunscreen has become one of the integral parts of skin-care products. Though most of us are aware of sunscreen and its uses, there might be few who may not have exact knowledge about some of the aspects of sunscreen. As the name suggests, sunscreen protects the skin from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. It acts like a screen and does not allow harsh UV rays to interact with our skin.

When we talk about sunscreen, there is a lot of emphasis on the sunscreen’s SPF (sun protection factor). You must have heard of sunscreens with SPF 15, SPF 30, SPF 50, etc. What do these SPFs suggest? SPF 15 helps fight 93 percent of UV rays, SPF30 offers 97 percent protection to the skin from harmful UV rays, and SPF 50 provides 98 percent protection against these rays.

Apart from SPF, another term has garnered a lot of attention. It is PA. PA stands for the protection grade of UV rays. It was developed in Japan and is helpful to people buying sunscreen as it clearly states the level of protection you can get from the dangerous UV rays emitted by the scorching sun. SPF and PA are sunscreen rating systems.

You may have seen sunscreens with PA+, PA++, PA+++, etc. What do these different PAs suggest? PA+ reckons your sunscreen provides some protection against UV rays, PA++ provides moderate protection, and PA+++ offers the best protection of the three. In simple terms, the higher the number of plusses after the PA, the better the protection you get from exposure to UV rays. PA rating is based on the PPD (persistent pigmentation darkening) test and measures how much exposure to UV rays your skin can tolerate without darkening. However, the PPD values are not standardised. They may vary depending on the region.

Protecting the skin against UV rays is of paramount importance. Mainly, the burning sun emits two types of UV rays; UVA and UVB. While the UVA rays penetrate deep into the skin and may lead to wrinkles, premature skin aging, and cancer, UVB rays are responsible for the colour change in your skin after spending time outdoors. Tanning and sunburn are common symptoms of increased interaction between skin and UVB rays. Applying a PA+++ sunscreen can protect your skin from UV rays and keep them away from reaching the surface of your skin.

Given the damage that UV rays can cause to our skin, which is the largest organ of our body, taking good care of the skin is essential. Before stepping out of the home, we must apply sunscreen. A good sunscreen with a PA+++ rating usually contains vital vitamins like Vitamin C and E, which are suitable for the skin. People who do not use sunscreen risk sun damage, which results in redness and irritation. While sunscreen is a shield against harmful UV rays, it also helps keep the skin radiant and glowing. It also gives it a younger look.

Thus, when choosing a sunscreen, it is crucial to see its PA rating. While a wide range of sunscreens is available, selecting the one that suits your bill is the key to achieving skin protection against the harmful UV rays emitted by the scorching sun. If you are required to stay outdoors in the sun for longer during the day, applying sunscreen with PA+++ is advisable. For instance, athletes involved in outdoor sports may prefer to wear PA+++ sunscreen. On the other hand, if your exposure to the burning sun is limited, you can go ahead with a sunscreen with lesser plusses in its PA rating.