spf upf uva uvb uvc

Sun Protection Jargon Guide: SPF, UPF, UVA, UVB and UVC

Navigating the sunscreen aisle can be overwhelming, with terms like SPFUVAUPF, and broad spectrum. It might feel like you’re decoding an alphabet soup!

Here’s the deal: sunscreen is essential for maintaining healthy and youthful skin. This guide will simplify the sunscreen and sun protection jargon, helping you understand what those terms mean. 

This way, you can confidently choose the right sunscreen and ensure you’re always protected.

Article at a Glance:

Sunscreen and Sun Protection Term Glossary

Definitions: SPF/UPF/UVA/UVB/UVC/Broad Spectrum/PA+++

Understanding Sunscreen Labels – See Through The Jargon

Sunscreen and Sun Protection Term Glossary:

uva uvb uvc spf upf

Understanding Skin Health Terms is Key : Get to know these essential terms to protect your skin:

  • UVA Rays: Go deep into your skin, causing aging. Remember, aging isn’t just about looking older; it’s about your skin’s health.
  • UVB Rays: They’re the reason behind sunburns and can lead to skin cancers. Protection is non-negotiable.
  • UVC Rays: Mostly stopped by our ozone, but it’s good to know they exist.
  • SPF (Sun Protection Factor): This number tells you how well a sunscreen can protect you from UVB rays. Higher numbers, better protection.
  • UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) is like SPF but for clothing, giving you an idea of how much UVA and UVB protection you’re getting.
  • Broad Spectrum: Your go-to sunscreen should have this label, which shields you from UVA and UVB rays.
  • PA+++ Rating: Indicates high protection against UVA rays, helping you avoid premature skin aging.

By understanding these terms, you’re better equipped to choose products that protect your skin from ultraviolet radiation, ultimately reducing your risk of skin cancers. Protecting your skin is a crucial step in maintaining its health and vitality.

The Difference Between UVA, UVB, and UVC Rays

UVA vs UVB vs UVC rays

Understanding the sun’s rays is crucial for recognizing why sunscreen and sun protection are necessary. 

The terms UVA, UVB, and UVC explain the different types of rays and, more importantly, their effects on our skin. Protect your skin by learning about these rays.

UVA Rays

UVA rays have the longest wavelength in the ultraviolet spectrum, deeply penetrating the skin. 

They’re not just about immediate tanning; they contribute to skin aging over time. Unlike UVB rays, which cause sunburn but are stopped mainly by glass, UVA rays can pass right through windows. 

This means you need daily sun protection indoors or in a car.

To safeguard your skin from UVA’s harmful effects, it’s crucial to use broad-spectrum sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays. 

Additionally, wearing protective clothing and seeking shade are critical steps in your daily routine to prevent skin aging and reduce your risk of skin cancer.

UVB Rays

skin cancer check

Protect your skin from UVB rays —the main culprits behind sunburn and a significant factor in skin cancer, including deadly melanoma.

Unlike UVA rays that penetrate deeper, causing aging, UVB rays are more intense and harmful with direct exposure.

To safeguard your skin, use broad-spectrum sunscreen , wear protective clothing, and limit sun exposure during peak hours. 

These simple steps can significantly reduce your risk of skin damage and cancer. Stay informed and take proactive measures to ensure your skin’s long-term health and safety.

UVC Rays

UVC rays with their short wavelengths, are mostly blocked by Earth’s atmosphere.

Because of this, UVC rays from the sun aren’t something to worry about, unless you find yourself in outer space…

However, UVC radiation can cause severe burns of the skin and eye injuries (photokeratitis) if you find a way to expose yourself to it.

SPF vs UPF rating


Understanding Sun Protection: Know the difference between SPF and UPF for better skin and health safety. SPF (Sun Protection Factor) tells you how much sunburn protection your sunscreen offers. 

On the other hand, UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) measures how effectively your clothes and fabrics protect you from harmful UV rays. 

Keep these in mind to shield yourself from the sun effectively.

SPF = Sun Protection Factor

SPF (Sun protection factor)

Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is critical for shielding your skin from UVB rays. The SPF number shows how much protection you get—the higher, the better. 

But don’t be fooled; the protection difference between SPF 30 and SPF 100 isn’t huge. 

SPF 50 is usually the best pick for outdoor activities and sport, giving strong protection while being gentle on your skin if you go with a natural mineral sunscreen. 

This can help avoid sensitivity or reactions. 

Make a smart choice and add broad spectrum, SPF 50 non nano zinc oxide sunscreen to your daily routine!

UPF = Ultraviolet Protection Factor

UPF clothing

Protect yourself from harmful UV radiation with high UPF-rated clothing during outdoor activities. 

Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) measures fabric’s effectiveness in blocking UV rays—the higher the UPF rating, the better the protection. 

With UPF 50+ clothing, you block over 98% of the sun’s harmful rays. 

Understanding your clothing’s UPF rating is crucial for reducing sunburn risk and preventing skin damage . 

Ensure your outdoor gear has a high UPF rating for maximum protection. 

Combine this with sunscreen for the best defense against UV damage. Stay safe and enjoy the outdoors with the proper protection.

The Importance of Broad-Spectrum Protection and PA+++

When shopping for sunscreen, you’ll often see “broad-spectrum protection“. This indicates the product protects against both UVA and UVB rays, offering comprehensive sun defense

Yet, for more detailed protection, especially in products with an Eastern heritage, look for the PA rating system.

Originating from Japan and Korea, the PA system uses ‘+’ symbols to show the level of UVA protection. 

For the highest UVA protection, aim for three pluses (PA+++).

The effectiveness of PA ratings is significant. In the U.S., for a product to earn the ‘broad-spectrum’ label, it must offer UVA protection of at least 1/3 of its SPF value

On the other hand, European sunscreens use a circular ‘UVA’ symbol to indicate UVA protection levels relative to UVB protection.

So, when choosing your next sunscreen, pay attention to these ratings for the best UVA protection.

Broad Spectrum Sunscreen Buyers Guide

broad spectrum sunscreen

Choosing the right sunscreen is crucial for skin health. The discussion usually concerns chemical UV filters and mineral (physical) sunscreens. 

Chemical sunscreens absorb UV rays, converting them to heat and releasing them from your body. 

Although lightweight and transparent, making application easy, harsh chemical UV filters have been shown to cause skin irritation, particularly for sensitive skin, and may disrupt the endocrine system.

Natural vs. Chemical Sunscreens

Mineral sunscreens featuring titanium dioxide or zinc oxide act as a shield on your skin’s surface, reflecting sun rays.

Due to their gentle and reef-safe ingredients, they are a favourite for those with sensitive skin and environmentally conscious consumers.

Choose a sunscreen with a high concentration of zinc oxide without any other UV filters for safe, broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays. 

These ingredients offer stable protection that doesn’t degrade in the sun, unlike some chemical filters.

Make the smart choice for your health and the environment, and swap to a natural mineral sunscreen.

Organic Face Sunscreen Tinted Mineral SPF 50

(80 customer reviews)
Original price was: AU$40.00.Current price is: AU$34.99.

Hydrating, antioxidant-boosted natural face sunscreen crafted for adventure and endurance sports.

Moisturizing Properties

Sun exposure  can dry out your skin. Choose a sunscreen that incorporates natural oils with hydrating properties, like jojoba oil or sunflower seed oil, and is enriched with  antioxidants to combat aging caused by free radicals.

Hyaluronic acid in sunscreen can provide an additional hydration boost, keeping your skin plump and moisturized.

Understanding Sunscreen Labels – See Through The Jargon

understanding sunscreen labels

The FDA sets regulations for specific sunscreen claims, but navigating what they all mean can be tricky. If you’re planning to buy sunscreen, which most of us do, it’s crucial to understand what the labels actually mean for your skin’s protection.

Sun Protection Factor (SPF): SPF is a measure of how well a sunscreen can protect you from sunburn, primarily from UVB rays. However, it’s essential to know that not all products protect against UVA rays, which can also damage your skin. Always look for an SPF of at least 30 for adequate protection.

Broad Spectrum Protection: This label means sunscreen protects against UVA and UVB rays. Since UVA rays are a significant cause of skin aging and cancers, broad-spectrum protection is vital to keeping your skin healthy.

Water Resistance: No sunscreen is fully waterproof, but some are water-resistant. This means they can maintain their SPF protection for a certain period of time while you’re swimming or sweating. Remember, it’s essential to reapply sunscreen every two hours or more often if you’re in the water or sweating a lot.

Instant Protection vs. Extended Protection: Chemical sunscreens need about 15-30 minutes to become effective, as they need time to be absorbed by the skin. Physical blockers, like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, offer protection that’s closer to instant but might not be perfect. Also, while some sunscreens claim extended protection beyond two hours, this often depends on the formulation, and reapplication is always a good idea.

In summary, while sunscreen labels carry essential information regulated by health authorities, understanding these claims can help you make better choices for your skin’s health and protection. 

Always choose broad spectrum, SPF 30 or higher, and water-resistant sunscreens for the best defense against the sun’s harmful rays.

Complimenting Broad Spectrum Sunscreen

broad spectrum sunscreen for endurance and adventure

Sunscreens provide excellent protection, but there are other ways to shield your skin without applying it all over your body every day. Explore alternative protection methods to keep your skin safe.

Clothing and Shade

Protect yourself from the sun with the proper clothing. Look for pieces with a high UPF 50+(Ultraviolet Protection Factor) rating for better UV ray protection. Remember, if you can see light through a fabric, UV rays can, too. Choose darker colours, as they absorb more UV rays, offering extra protection.

Find shade during midday when the sun is at its strongest. Whether it’s under a tree or beside a building, staying out of direct sunlight can significantly reduce your exposure to harmful UV rays.

Diet and Hydration

diet for sun protection

Incorporating a diet high in antioxidants can significantly bolster your skin’s defense against harmful UVA rays and the impact of oxidative stress on premature aging. 

Foods rich in Vitamin D and antioxidants like berries, leafy greens, and nuts can help fight free radicals, enhancing your skin’s health and resilience. 

While staying hydrated is crucial for preventing dehydration and its damaging effects on the skin, it’s essential to understand that these dietary measures complement, not replace, physical sun protection methods. 

Always apply sunscreen when outdoors to shield your skin, and remember, a healthy diet rich in antioxidants should accompany your sun protection strategy to offer a comprehensive defense against sun damage and to support overall skin health.

My Experience with Sunscreen Jargon

In conclusion, as the founder of Skorcha Organic Suncare, my journey through the maze of sun protection jargon has been nothing short of a revelation. Starting off as a tradie, sun protection to me meant just slapping on any sunscreen I could find in the morning. After my skin cancer scare, I realised how vital it is to understand what exactly goes into protecting our skin from the sun’s harmful effects. Terms like  UVA, UVB, UVC, UPF, SPF, broad spectrum,  and  PA+++  were once just technical jargon but now represent the pillars upon which Skorcha Organic SunCare is built.

This venture isn’t just about creating products; it’s about educating and empowering others to take charge of their skin health, just like I had to. The knowledge I’ve gained about the different types of UV rays and the importance of comprehensive sun protection has been instrumental in formulating our products. We’re committed to providing options that not only protect from the sun but also offer hydration and antioxidants to combat aging, sticking to organic and skin-friendly ingredients.

Our aim is to demystify sunscreen and sun protection for everyone, making it accessible and understandable. Whether you’re a contractor, an adventure seeker, an endurance athlete or a parent, we all deserve to enjoy the sun safely and without fear. Remember, the right information can not only protect your skin but also save your life. Thank you for joining me on this incredible journey to healthier skin under the sun.


Which is more harmful, UVA or UVB?

Both UVA and UVB can be harmful. UVA ages skin cells and can damage their DNA, leading to premature aging and skin cancer. UVB burns the superficial layers of your skin, playing a key role in the development of skin cancer.

Is vitamin D from UVA or UVB?

Vitamin D is primarily obtained through exposure to UVB, not UVA.

Does UVA or UVB make you darker?

UVB is mainly responsible for producing a suntan by increasing melanin production in the skin, making you appear darker.

What is UPF and SPF?

UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) is a rating system used for clothing, indicating how effectively the fabric blocks UV radiation. SPF (Sun Protection Factor), on the other hand, measures the level of protection a sunscreen offers against UVB rays.

Is blue light UVA or UVB?

Blue light is not categorized as UVA or UVB. It’s part of the visible light spectrum, with a wavelength shorter than UV light and longer than purple light.

Is UPF clothing better than SPF?

UPF clothing provides continuous protection against the sun’s rays, covering more areas without the need to reapply, making it highly effective for prolonged outdoor activities. SPF, however, is a measure for sunscreens and needs reapplication for continuous protection.

Mick Wadley

Mick Wadley – Founder of Skorcha

After a decade in the scorching sun as a roofer and going door-to-door in sales – I was forced to take my skin health seriously following a skin cancer scare before the age of 30.

So began my passion for suncare, which is both effective and natural. Crafted for adventure and endurance sports, Skorcha formulas are non-greasy, have no eye sting and absolutely no bullshit (100% Organic).

My goal is to share what I’ve learned about skin health and safe ingredients, inspiring happier, healthier lives through adventure, organic goodness and conservation!

Help us plant a mangrove tree with every Skorcha product sold to protect fragile marine ecosystems and support underprivileged communities around the world.

Statements made on this website have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Products sold on this website are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Information provided by this website or this company is not a substitute for direct, individual medical treatment or advice. It is the responsibility of you and your healthcare providers to make all decisions regarding your health. Skorcha recommends that you consult with your healthcare providers regarding the diagnosis and treatment of any disease or condition.