SPF and UVA – what does it mean for me and my skin type? – Julie Soley
Keeping the user in the centre of innovation. Always.
March 21, 2018
Julies skin type test
September 19, 2019

SPF and UVA – what does it mean for me and my skin type?

Who doesn´t know of it: winter´s over and the sun wakes us in the earliest morning hours – high time for you to prepare for summer, beach vacation and swimming pools.

The most important topic: sunscreen! In search of the perfect sunscreen, you stand in front of shelves that are filled with it – an unmanageable offer. Sunscreens in every size and shape, on the cover of which inscriptions such as SPF with numbers from 10-50 + and UVA are written. But what do these abbreviations tell us and what do they mean for us? Especially in connection with our skin type?

First of all, let´s take a closer look at the topic „skin type“.

The most common classification of skin types includes types I to IV and is completed by types V (brown skin) and VI (black skin). While type I is still characterized by a very light complexion and a very slight tan, which is more likely to be manifested by freckles, these features change in ascending order to type IV, which already has a brownish or olive skin and a quick tan.

The most important feature of our sunscreen, however, ist he self-protection time associated with the appropriate skin type. This describes the time we can expose our skin to the sun without external sun protection. While type I should stay in the sun for a maximum of 10 minutes unprotected, the self-protection time increases over the types II (10-20 minutes) and III (20-30 minutes) up to type IV, which can stay more than 30 minutes in the sun without sunscreen.

If you want to know more about the skin types, have a look here: „Julie´s skin type test“.

Your skin type can be optimally determined by your dermatologist of trust.

Now that we know the self-protection time of our skin, we can start choosing our sunscreen. We can do that because the sun protection factor (SPF) of the sunscreen combined with the self-protection time indicates how long we can enjoy the sun until we have to cream again.

The rule of thumb: self-protection time x SPF = maximum time in the sun.

In other words, with a self-protection time of 10 minutes and an SPF of 30, we can enjoy the sun for a maximum of 300 minutes. However, it is recommended to use the calculated time only two thirds as a precautionary measure and then apply sunscreen again. BUT: If you apply the sunscreen again, the maximum sun exposure will not be prolonged.

Finally, let´s take a closer look at the abbreviation “UVA”.

The sunlight is composed of several parts. Here, the UV-A and the UV-B components are those from which we want to protect ourselves. The UV-B component, which penetrates only the upper layers of the skin and is responsible for the sunburn, is shorter wavelength than the UV-A component, which, however, penetrates deeper into the skin and can cause invisible damage.

Therefore, sunscreen products must have certain minimum effectiveness criteria relative to the two components. The SPF applies to the effectiveness of the sunscreen against the UV-B rays. The protection factor against UV-A radiation must be at least one-third of the SPF and can then be confirmed on the cover of the sunscreen with the symbol “UVA”.

Nothing will be on your way to the summer or your next beach vacation.