How Does Sunscreen Protect Your Skin From UV Rays?

How Does Sunscreen Protect Your Skin From UV Rays

We all know how important sun protection is for our skin’s health - but how much do you really know about how SPF protects us from UV rays? We take a closer look at the many benefits of sunscreen.

What Is The Difference Between UVA and UVB Rays?


Sunscreen packaging can often appear confusing, with multiple references to UVA rays, UVB rays, broad spectrum protection, and even SPF itself. That said, we all know the benefits daily SPF brings to our skin, so it’s important to make sure you understand just what to look for in your sunscreen.

What are UVA Rays? While UVA rays can be divided into two types – short form and long form - both types are longer than UVB rays. UVA rays are generally responsible for visible signs of photo aging.1

What are UVB rays? UVB rays are shorter than UVA rays, making them responsible for tanning and sunburn. UVB rays are at their most powerful in summer, unlike UVA rays, which are present all year round.

It is important to get protection from UVA rays and UVB rays in your sunscreen. Look for the UVA logo on your sunscreen bottle to make sure you’re protecting your skin against both types of UV rays.

How Do I Choose the Right Sunscreen?


Research conducted by L’Oréal suggests that UV exposure is responsible for up to 80% of preventable skin aging. Generally speaking, sunscreen falls into two main categories: physical sunscreens (also known as mineral sunscreens) and chemical sunscreens, also known as organic sunscreens. As their name suggests, physical sunscreen provides a protective covering that deflects UV rays. Common physical sunscreen ingredients include titanium oxide and zinc oxide.

Chemical/organic ingredients, meanwhile, absorb UV, reducing its ability to penetrate into the skin. Chemical sunscreens commonly include ingredients such as avobenzone, oxybenzone and homosalate.2

As mentioned above, whatever sunscreen you choose, it’s important to ensure it offers “broad-spectrum” coverage. Broad Spectrum Coverage simply means protection from both UVA and UVB rays, guarding skin against damage linked to UV rays. Most day face moisturizers generally contain a good level of SPF so you can add an SPF moisturizer to your daily routine. If you prefer applying sunscreen separately, opt for a physical formula if you’re planning on wearing makeup. Apply before makeup to offer skin a protective layer pre-foundation. Added bonus: choose makeup with SPF for an extra layer of protection.


1 Agence française de Sécurité sanitaire environnementale (AFSSE). Ultraviolets. Etat des connaissances sur l’exposition et les risques sanitaires.. Mai 2005. Page 36 - 41.
2 http://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/report/the-trouble-with-sunscreen-chemicals/#.Wc5WY8hJZPY
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