What Is Broad Spectrum Sunscreen

What Is Broad Spectrum Sunscreen? – Best Practices

Every day, or almost every day, we go out in the sun. It could be on our way to or from work, on our way to run errands or even when we’re on holidays. And what best way to protect our skin from sun damage than to apply sunscreen or sunscreen alternatives?

What Is Broad Spectrum Sunscreen
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Everyone should be wearing sunscreen or some sort of sun protection all year round. This is in order to reduce sunburn and other effects of prolonged exposure to the sun.

What Can Long-Term Sunlight Exposure Cause?

Long-term sunlight exposure is known to be associated with the development of skin cancer, skin aging, immune suppression, and eye diseases such as cataracts and macular degeneration.

So there is a myriad of reasons why we need to stay protected from the sun.

What Is Sunburn?

Sunburn is when the skin ‘burns’, turning red and irritated due to exposure to the sun for prolonged periods, without adequate sun protection. If the burn is severe, you can develop swelling and sunburn blisters.

What Is A Sunscreen?

A sunscreen could be in the form of a lotion or any other topical product that protects the skin from the harmful effects of the sun by absorbing or reflecting some of the ultraviolet radiation from the sun. A sunscreen could either be a physical sunscreen, containing zinc or titanium dioxide or a chemical sunscreen which is an ultraviolet filter that absorbs ultraviolet rays.

What Are the Benefits of Sunscreen?

The benefits of using sunscreen include:

Reducing the risk of getting skin cancer

Recommends protection from both UVA and the UVB rays for optimal skin protection.

It has also been said that consistent use of sunscreen helps slow and reduce the appearance of wrinkles and saggy skin.

What Are Ultraviolet (UV) Rays?

Ultraviolet (UV) rays are constituents of sunlight. UVC rays are reabsorbed and are not harmful to us. The UVB and UVA rays, however, both cause sunburn and can cause DNA damage, UVA rays being more harmful. UVA rays have a smaller role to play in causing sunburns but penetrate deeper into the skin and are more harmful. They are more responsible for tanning, which signifies DNA damage, than UVB rays.

Simply put, the UVB and UVA combination is a dangerous one and that’s the part where Broad-Spectrum sunscreen comes in.

Video: Sunscreen Basics

This video will explain the basic things you need to know about sunscreens.

What Is Broad Spectrum Sunscreen?– Terminologies Associated

SPF translates to ‘Sun Protection Factor’ and determines the effectiveness of a sunscreen in protecting you from the sun’s rays.

What IS Broad Spectrum Sunscreen
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The Sun Protection Factor is a measure by which sunscreens are labelled and rated. If you use a decent amount of sunscreen with SPF 15 for example, it just means it’ll take you fifteen times longer to get a sunburn than you would if you did not apply any sunscreen. The higher the SPF, the more sun protection the sunscreen offers.

Sunscreens are generally classified into:

Low coverage sunscreens: SPF under 15.

Medium coverage sunscreens: SPF from 15 – 29.

High coverage sunscreens: SPF from 30 – 49.

And very high coverage sunscreens from SPF 50 and above.

Also, UVB rays are prevented by sunscreens as SPF increases, in the following proportions:   

SPF of 15 prevents 93 percent of UVB rays.

SPF 30 prevents out 97 percent of rays

SPF 50 almost totally prevents UVB rays, blocking 98 percent of rays.

It might be worthy to note that UVA rays are blocked in the same proportions as SPF blocks UVB rays when using sunscreens that are broad-spectrum.

How to Choose Your SPF

As with all other skincare products, when choosing a sunscreen, you have to take your skin type into consideration. People with oily skin should choose lightweight sunscreens so as to prevent being greasy all day, especially when you have to layer on makeup.

People with blemished, acne-prone and sensitive skin should look out for the ingredients in the sunscreen such as chemical sunscreens, especially the ones with benzophenones, which cause skin irritation. Mineral sunscreens can be used by people with highly sensitive skin as they are known to cause little to no irritation. Mineral sunscreens are also mild enough to use on babies.

Dry skin? You’re in luck! We say so because a lot of moisturizers now include sunscreens in them, so you can moisturize your skin and apply sunscreen simultaneously. People with dry skin can also opt for oil sunscreens to help retain moisture all day.

Once we’ve understood all the sunscreen related terminologies above, it’s really easy to figure out what a broad-spectrum sunscreen is.

What Is Broad Spectrum Sunscreen?

A broad-spectrum sunscreen simply refers to a sunscreen that protects your skin from UVB and the UVA rays. Apart from the SPF number, a sunscreen product’s label should denote whether or not it has undergone and passed the test for broad-spectrum sunscreens against the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Only when it passes this test, can it be called ‘Broad-Spectrum’.

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Water Resistant and Non-Greasy Sunscreen Lotion with Broad Spectrum SPF 100+, 3 Fl. Oz

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Also, UVA protection increases with increasing SPF value. If a sunscreen has a high SPF but isn’t broad-spectrum, you still won’t be protected from all UVA rays.

While most people understand why they should use sunscreen, research shows that a significant number of sunscreen users tend to place factors such as the water resistance and price of the sunscreen over the more important factors – the SPF number and if it blocks both UVB and the UVA rays.

And that takes us to the answer to what’s best for us as regards sunscreen. 

What Is the Best Sunscreen for Face and Body?

The best sunscreen for your face and body is simply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF. Generally, sunscreen products with SPF 15 or lower are said to not provide broad-spectrum coverage.

Note that a considerable increase in the SPF means a small increase in the percentage of rays the sunscreen blocks as listed above. So you should definitely put that factor into consideration while choosing a sunscreen to purchase.


All in all, you’re advised to buy a broad-spectrum sunscreen having SPF 15 and above. Remember also to apply your sunscreen about fifteen minutes before exposure to the sun, after your moisturizer and before your foundation and reapply bi-hourly for optimal protection.

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