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What Kinds of Sunscreens Are Available?

The role of sunscreens is to absorb, reflect or scatter damaging UV rays before they have a chance to interact with the skin. There are, however, many types of sunscreen available on the market today with many types of ingredients (and inactive ingredients) for various purposes and lifestyles. Whatever you choose, you should make sure your sunscreen provides both UVA and UVB protection.

Sunscreen Types
General Sunscreen Terms


Sunscreen Types

Avobenzone
Also known as Parsol® 1789, this sunscreen provides effective UVA protection and is used in combination with other sunscreens to provide broad-spectrum protection.

Benzophenone
A class of sunscreens which includes oxybenzone, used in US products. These provide the UVA and UVB protection for many sunscreen products.

Homosalate
Homosalate is a UVB sunscreen that is often used in products with lower SPF ratings or in combination with other sunscreens in higher-protection products.

Octisalate
A relative of homosalate, this UVB sunscreen is also used in lower-SPF products or combined with other sunscreens in products of higher SPF.

Oxybenzone
A common sunscreen used in combination with other sunscreens to provide broad-spectrum protection.

Para-aminobenzoic acid
Para-aminobenzoic acid was used as a sunscreen for many years, but is no longer used for many products. PABA can stain clothing and sting skin.

Padimate 0
This water-resistant sunscreen is sometimes used for UVB protection in US products. (Also called octyl dimethyl PABA.)

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General Sunscreen Terms

Broad-spectrum Protection
This refers to sunscreen products that contain ingredients to protect against both UVB and UVA rays.

Noncomedogenic
A product that is noncomedogenic will not clog the skin's pores. Noncomedogenic sunscreen products are designed for those who experience frequent or occasional breakouts.

Sunblock
Sunblock is a term used by sunscreen manufacturers to represent products which provide an SPF 12 or higher.

Sunscreens
All sun-protection products labeled with an SPF of 2 or higher are considered sunscreens. Sunscreen agents absorb, reflect, or scatter UV light.

Sweatproof
"Sweatproof" indicates that a product maintains its degree of sunburn protection after 40 minutes of water exposure.

Water-resistant, Waterproof
"Water-resistant" indicates that a product maintains its degree of sunburn protection after 40 minutes of water exposure. "Waterproof" or "very water-resistant" indicates that the degree of sunburn protection is maintained after 80 minutes of such exposure.

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