Basics of sun protection (+top 8 UVA sunscreens)

If you know me only as a nail polish junkie with a 1400+ collection of bottled beauties, then you will be probably shocked that I am more passionate about skincare … and always were. :D

I have been using sunscreen regularly for almost 20 years. As a sworn geek, I studied every little detail about the subject. But I am not held down by theory. Quite frankly, I put a lot into my own experience and those of my fellow SPF worshipers.

One of our pet peewees is the non-disclosure of UVA protection. Why in the world is that still not a legal obligation? UVA is just as important as UVB (SPF numerical label).
I personally want more than:

  • UVA in a circle – EU way of telling us that UVA is 1/3 or more of UVB protection (SPF 50+ usually means SPF is around 60. 1/3 of that is the UVA-PF 20 which is decent UVA protection.).
  • or an Asian PA + system that is also rudimentary
  • and don’t even get me started on USA “broad spectrum

I want NUMBERS not a cat in a bag. :P

A few of UVA freaks gathered joined me in the Slovenian Facebook group Ljubim kozmetiko and we compiled a list of known UVA numbers from official sources only – contacting manufacturers, listed on the packaging …

CLICK HERE for the extensive LIST of sun protection products with known UVA protection … I promise it is self-explanatory even if you don’t speak a word of Slovenian language. Our currency is Euro.


Let’s pretend that UVC rays are all stoped by our ozone layer (they will be in 10+ years if we leave it alone to regenerate) so our focus is on UVA and UVB.

UVB skin damage by Maestra Parokeets
UVB skin damage with a clear line where strong SPF protection was used by Maestra Parokeets

UVB rays are the ones that will let you know when you exceed your natural protection – skin turns red, blisters … we all know how that story can end.

UVA rays are more sneaky. Slowly but surely, they destroy your collagen, skin gets saggy, can cause skin cancer … Remember the famous truck driver photo? Glass stoped the majority of UVB rays. Still, UVA got through and visibly damaged the side closed to the side window.
If you have skin cancer in your family or deal with hyperpigmentation/melasma … then you should look into higher UVA protection.
Granted, nothing mentioned is only about UVA, but that is one of the specters you should at least research for yourself and see if you could benefit from it.
As someone with vitiligo, I need high UVA, UVB, and IR protection on the skin left with no protection whatsoever.


Why hide UVA height?

I was a contact for a few of the largest companies for the list we made, and I have to tell you … they added quite a few gray hairs to my collection.
Slovenian PR girls did their best and definitively earned my respect with their efforts, but the amount of #beep manufacturers tried to serve me … astounding.
Let me give you a couple of examples:

  • “We do not measure the height of UVA protection.”
    Are you joking with me? You clearly state that UVA is a third of your UVB protection. So how in the world did you manage to get the number to divide it with if you never measured the UVA?
  • “We don’t wish to test on test subjects, which is why we do not measure PPD. Laboratory (in vitro) tests only for us.”
    But my dear, UVB IS tested on human skin. Only last year did the EU pass the first in vitro standard for UVB measuring … which is jet to be implemented.

Bottom line – I really do not care if they share UVA-PF or PPD … for the average user, they are so close together that we don’t even see the difference.

I have to admit I don’t really see the point in hiding numbers of UVA protection. I know I won’t give up my loved mineral sunscreens even if they rarely exceed UVA-PF of 20. They give me so much on other levels that there is no option of trading them for usually sticky and barely wearable formulas. I choose them carefully – make sure infrared protection is there for the warmest months …

But it’s my choice to decide that I will opt for P20 on my hands to protect the vitiligo-damaged hands and Australian Gold Botanicals for my face. My choice to decide if UVA-PF 20 is enough … a choice is all I want.

Top 8 sunscreens with a very high UVA

MesoesteticMesoprotech Melan 130+ Pigment Control1316752,950
UriageBariesun XP Cream SPF 50+50+65 (PPD)16,9040
P20Suncare For Kids SPF 50+50+5312,6100
RilastilAK-Repair MD 100+1315324,950
La Roche-PosayAnthelios Shaka Fluid SPF 50+50+46 (PPD)17,2650
RilastilSun System Comfort Fluid SPF 50+50+4617,7950
Evy TechnologyDaily Defense 50 Mousse50402775
BiodermaPhotoderm KID Spray SPF 50+50+3918,63200

Rules of sun protection

LPR Shaka UVA – 46 PPD, PA++++
  • apply liberally means 2 mg on cm2 of skin. Anything less, and you are not getting SPF/PPD on a label.
  • reapply – after 2 hours of wear time, protection is starting to weaken.  Even if you have a type of skin that would guarantee you 8-hour protection with SPF 50 – you rub it off, sweat it away, filters degrade …
  • don’t listen to those who skipped geography lessons … the closer you get to the equator, it is more important to protect yourself. A similar thing goes to altitude – the higher you go, the more sun protection you need.
  • the waterproof label is a must for those of us that sweat a lot or those who spend lots of time in the water.
  • The majority of sun protection creams come with a warning about not exposing it to too high of a temperature. I stick with temperatures below 25°C.
    The same goes for direct sunlight.
  • shake really well before use.

Thank you, ladies, for joining me in the task of compiling the UVA list that only brought us gray hair: Tika Hribar, Špela Bordon, Nina ŠtajnerTajka Selan in Daša Peternelj.

This post is also available in %s.

14 thoughts on “Basics of sun protection (+top 8 UVA sunscreens)”

  1. hey i really love this article who finally shed some light on the issue
    I have a little question tho. latelly i found a really good sunscreen who is spf 50+ and claims that the uv-A protection is three times higher then minimumly neccesary to be labled spf 50+ is such a claim realistic? the sunscreen is the Isdin FotoUltra Spot Prevent Fusion Fluid spf 50+ they claim there UV-a protection is 118, if this is true i believe it would be worth a mention.
    i belive you can find their research on their website but i don’t understand it ^^”.
    thanks in advance allready !

  2. Hi. Regarding “UV-PF” vs “Boots Star rating”: If you take as an example a sunscreen with SPF 50, then it lets through 1/50 of the UVB light, and 1/50 is the same as 2%. This means it blocks 98% of the UVB since 100%-98%=2%. If it has 5 stars then UVA attenuation is at least 90% of UVB attenuation, right? So a factor 0,9. Which in this example means attenuation is 0,98*0,9 which is 0,882 or 88,2%. Which means it lets through 100%-88,2% = 11,8% (which is a factor 0,118). If you by UVA-PF mean a factor similar to SPF but for UVA, then UVA-PF would equal 1/0,118 which is 8,5. In a general case, with star rating 5, the equation would be: UVA-PF = 1/(1-(1-1/SPF)*0,9). For example all Evy have 5 stars so the UVA-PF is 8,5 if SPF is 50. Not 40 like you wrote. But it is very nice of you to publish this, makes it easier to find good sunscreens.

    • Hi David,
      all of the information published in this post is official from the brands themselves and are tested values. UVA-PF in measured just like SPF so I am not sure I follow your train of thought. :D

  3. Thank you. I can’t find any of these products available in the US. Is there a place I can safely buy them overseas and have them shipped to the US? Or are there any US versions that you recommend?

  4. Hi Gabi, greetings from Scotland! Just wanted to say that this article is really helpful – thanks so much! Really helpful place to build up sunscreen knowledge – I’m new to the whole ‘must wear sunscreen every day’ thing (at 27 years old, wonder if I might be a wee bit late to the party!) and plan to build up my sunscreen knowledge and routine this summer, and use the big long list you made in Excel! That’s a fantastic resource thank you so much for making it public. PPD/UVA-PF info can be so hard to dig out on the internet so will save a lot of people a lot of time! I agree that its madness that its not widely done or mandatory for manufacturers to publish UVA protection numbers for each product. Really looking forward to trying your recommendations, with the peace of mind about their PPD/UVA-PF🙂

    • Thank you for such a lovely comment, Lucy!
      It was a tough road, and it took a few of us to collect the data. The majority of companies still refuse to release UVA protection of their products. :|

  5. How did you calculate the UVA protection of the Evy Technology sunscreen? On the bottle it says it has 5 stars (Boots rating system) and PA ++++, but it doesn’t say anything about the actual PPD/UVA PF. Did you receive this information from the manufacturer? Thanks in advance!

  6. Why haven’t you added the Altrust spf 50 sunscreen?
    It staits that it has a ppd of 54.

    • Not that simple. We can publish only if we got official rating from the manufacturer and Altruist did not respond to our request when we submitted it last year. :(


Leave a comment