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SPF, The Higher The Better?

Updated: May 3, 2019

Author: Phr. Lim

SPF, the higher the better? This is a common misunderstanding among the consumers. SPF doesn’t actually reflect the strength and efficacy of a sunscreen product.

What does SPF mean?

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. It indicates the level of UVB (UV light that causes sunburn and red spot) protection that a sunscreen offers. Higher SPF means a longer duration of protection it offers, but not the strength and efficacy of a product. To help you understand it better, if you were to get sunburn after 15 minutes of sun exposure without putting on any sunscreen, a SPF 20 sunscreen with offer you a duration of protection of 20X15= 300 minutes. A SPF 30 sunscreen will offer you protection with a duration of 30X15= 450 minutes.

What about “PA+”?

SPF indicates the level of UVB protection, whereas “PA” measures the level of UVA protection (UVA causes skin tanning). “PA+” indicates that it can delay the duration of skin tanning for 2 to 4 times, compare to without using a sunscreen. “PA++” indicates that the tanning process can be delayed for 4-8 times, where as “PA+++” means it can delay the process for 8 times.