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SPF & PA Facts ~ Pick The Right Sunscreen For You!

Today, I want to share with you some information about SPF & PA stuff. We buy sunscreens, but are we buying the right one? I, for one, have learnt a lot from this, and I know exactly what type of sunscreen I should be buying henceforth.

Hope it will guide you too!

Information below provided by HUL India, and I'm in no way an expert on such things =)

What is SPF & PA?

What SPF is right for you?
Step 1- Choose Your Skin Type: Type III, Type IV, Type V, Type VI
I'd say I'm a Type III 
Step 2- Duration of time spent in the sun: Less than 2 hours, More than 2 hours 
For me it's less than 2 hours, on most days.
Step 3- Recommended SPF: According to the chart, I'd need SPF 30. If I spend more time in the sun, like at a beach (woohoo!), I'd have to use SPF 50.

A Few Myths About Sunscreen:
  • Myth 1: If you're dark skinned, you don't need sunscreen ~ Sun damage doesn't depend on your complexion. True, dark skin implies presence of a higher amount of melanin in the skin - offering more natural protection as compared to a lighter complexion. However, extra melanin doesn't guard the skin from sun's UV rays that accelerate aging, causing pigmentation and sunspots. If you have dark skin, use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or more.
  • Myth 2: A sunscreen with SPF 30 is as good as a higher SPF ~ No, a higher SPF is always better. According to experts, you get 99% sunburn protection with SPF 90, as compared to 96% with SPF 30. Over a lifetime, this difference can add up to a lot less skin damage.
  • Myth 3: Putting on lots of sunscreen at the start of the day will protect you all day long ~ Do this and you might end up with  sun-burn. Because sunscreen wears off and must be re-applied every 3 hours or even more frequently when sweating & swimming. Also, be liberal with the amount of sunscreen you use, for optimum protection from the sun.

  • Apply 1/2 teaspoon on your face and neck and 1 teaspoon on the exposed parts of your body.
  • Apply 20 minutes before going out in the sun.
  • If using a moisturizer, apply moisturizer first and then sunscreen.
  • If using makeup, apply sunscreen as a base and then apply foundation over it, followed by other makeup.
  • Re-apply every 2-3 hours, especially when out in the sun. 
The above explains why PA +++ is important in a sunscreen. It protects from UVA rays, which are more harmful than UVB rays and can penetrate the skin's deepest layers, where they trigger cells called melanocytes to produce a brown spot called melanin. This pigment rises to the skin's surface and tans your skin, while your skin cells continue to get attacked by UVA rays, resulting in not only age spots, but wrinkles too.
Right now, for my body I'm using Lakmé Cucumber & Lemongrass Whitening Sunscreen SPF 30, that was launched last year, and I really like it because it's easy to blend. Now Lakmé has a new Sun Expert range to replace the previous ones. I'm going to get the Sun Expert Fairness + UV Lotion SPF 30. For face, I'm using Lotus Multi Function Sunblock SPF 70 . I just know now that I have to pick the ones with PA, since I have deep-seated hyperpigmentation.
Below is proof of how much damage the sun can do to ones skin. I first saw it on twitter, and it scared the bejesus out of me!
This man is a 69-year-old truck driver, having driven daytime hours behind the wheel for the 28 years. The left side of his face, exposed to more sunlight, exhibits more fine lines, wrinkles, loss of elasticity, sallowness, and dryness. This is due to largely cumulative DNA damage, decreased fibroblast (skin cell) production of collagen, and slowed cellular turnover. The window afforded little protection – while glass blocks nearly all UVB, it allows 62.8% of long-wavelength UVA rays through the window. And it is the UVA that is responsible for many of the visible signs of aging. Read more here [Photo courtesy: New England Journal Of Medicine]

Scary, isn't it?

Grab your SPF's now, people!

*P.S: Somebody asked me a question the other day:

Q: "....If am using a sunscreen of SPF 50 then on it foundation of  SPF 15 and then powder of SPF i wanna know actually what SPF am i wearing...?"

I'd personally only take the sunscreen of SPF 50 seriously, but I'll still add them up. In this case, I would think I'm wearing upto SPF 70.

But of course that's math I'm unsure about (like any other), so if any of you know the right answer, please enlighten us! =)

♥ Cynthia Z *.*


  1. SPF will not add up. You will only have the highest SPF that you put on ie, SPF 50.

  2. such an useful post cynthia.. very clearly explained..

  3. very useful..I use spf 40 for now..

  4. Would you happen to know if this range has an oil-free or gel-based sunscreen? I have oily skin and sunscreens usually turn me into a ball of sweat. Am currently using a Neutrogena moisturizer with SPF 15 which is oil-free. While I like it a lot, I feel like the SPF factor is not enough.

    1. They have a light formula one, which is great for my oily skin. I've reviewed it here-

      But don't know if the formula is still the same since they changed the name.

      I forgot to mention, I'm using Ansolar SPF 30 Gel Cream too at the moment. It was prescribed by a doctor. I like it a lot...Do check that out if you want a gel cream


  5. I've read clinical studies that SPF doesn't prolong your skin's guard in duration against UV. Instead, the SPF shows how much protection it can give the skin, since sunscreen shall be reapplied about every 2 hours anyway.
    SPF 20 - 95%
    SPF 25 - 96%
    SPF 30 - 97%
    SPF 50 - 98%

    Or we can also say that the number of SPF lets us know how many UVB ray can pass through: SPF 50 - 1/50 = 2% of UVB ray passes through.

    The ideal application would be 2mg/cm2 of skin exposed to the sun. So for average adult that weigh 63 kg and is 165 cm tall (if I'm not mistaken) wearing a short covering the crotch area to mid-thigh, he will need approximately 1 fl. oz./30ml/6tsp of sunscreen to cover the whole body parts that are exposed.

    If for the face and neck it's ideal to put on 1/4tsp of sunscreen each, that would more or less leave 3/4tsp for each arm, 1 tsp for front torso, 1 tsp for the back, and 1 tsp for each leg and foot.

    1. Wow that's a lot to take in! Thank you for the useful info :))


  6. I wanted to clarify on the SPF adding up if using multiple products containing SPF. The correct answer is the product you use FIRST on the skin would be the one protecting your skin, whether its SPF 15 or 50.

    And the right order of using sunscreen and other skincare products is - sunscreen ALWAYS goes on first (if it's chemical) that way it is absorbed first, and is able to form a filter over the skin matrix. If you are using a physical sunscreen (those containing zinc oxide) then that goes on last after your skincare routine.

    Also, the rules to apply sunscreen after or before moisturizer/serums etc. are quite a lot, but basics are - if the moisturizer/serum is lightweight then it goes on first and then sunscreen. If the sunscreen is lighter and your moisturizer is thicker, then sunscreen first and moisturizer on top.

    Any makeup will go on top of the sunscreen, physical or chemical.

    I see a lot of Indian bloggers completely f***ing up the sunscreen posts (not you Cynthia... but TONS out there are!) by posting things like ohhh the sunscreen smelled bad so who cares if its SPF 50 PA+++ I wont use it cause I want sunscreen to smell like roses or something equally idiotic. OK. I need to stop before this becomes a rant.

    Love your blog. Yes. I'm a silent lurker :-|


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