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Do you know your sunscreen? UVA, UVB, SPF and PA? What does it really mean?

Summer is here and all we want is to go outside and feel the sun kiss our skin. Even though it is common knowledge to use sunscreen to avoid a painful sunburn, we are unsure if everyone realizes how to best protect our skin, what to look for and that sunscreen is actually the number one beauty product!


Sun damage is the number one cause of early aging, which is why using a sunscreen on a daily basis, (yes even if you don’t think the sun is so strong or even out!!), is a must. And if you are in your twenties and think that this is not something you have to worry about yet, well, by Korean standards, you are wrong! Korean beauty gurus explain the beauty culture should be about preventing skin damage and aging etc, not reversing it. And this we are all about!


However, many people feel hesitant about the every day use as sunscreen might feel too thick or not look good under makeup, or especially for people with oily/acne prone skin – feel like a beauty trade-off. This is why we wanted to write this post, because this should not be a problem and there should be no trade-offs!


The difference between the typical western sunscreen and a Korean sunscreen is not just the lightweight feel and look but it almost always has a higher SPF and has more information than a western type. For example, a Korean sunscreen would usually be a SPF 50 and also state the level of UVA and UVB protection. It would be written like this:


SPF 50+ / PA +++


So what does this mean? First, a sunburn is caused by sun exposure and looks red and maybe swollen and feels painful as the internal structures of the skin are damaged. This is caused by what most people call UV rays from the sun, which are Ultra Violet rays. These can be classified into three groups:


UVA – These types of UV rays are known as the Aging rays and are the most related to skin cancer. It will destroy the vitamin A in our skin as well as indirectly cause DNA damage. The UVA rays make up 98.7% in UV rays.


UVB – This is the Sunburn part of the UV ray and directly causes DNA damage to skin cells.


UVC – This is the most powerful and the most damaging of the UV rays, however, there is barly any of this left in the UV rays by the time it reaches our skin. However, this also has damaging effects on our DNA as well.


So! This is why sun protection is so important! SPF is something we have all heard of and stands for Sun Protective Factor and expresses how well the lotion will protect against UVB rays specifically. The number behind, in our example 50, explains how many times more recistant you are towards a burn than if you were to not wear any sun protection. So, if it would take you 30 minutes to get sunburned with no protection, it would take 50 times longer to get sunburned wearing a SPF 50.


Here comes the part that may be new to you! PA expresses the Protective Grade of UVA, which was established by the Japanese. In our example above it says PA+++ which indicated the highest rating of UVA protection (more than 8 hours of protection). It could also say PA++ for moderate protection (4-8 hours) or PA+  for some protection (2-4 hours) against UVA.


We are not saying that Western sunscreens do not protect against both UVA and UVB rays but they tend not to inform you. But Korean labels always will! Just like our sunscreen from Cosrx with SPF 50+/PA+++, which does not cause any breakouts and is great for a daily use under makeup.




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