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What does PA+ on sunscreen mean?

What does PA+ on sunscreen mean?

In Australia we don’t typically use the PA+ system, in fact, the therapeutic goods administration of Australia only recognize the SPF system. However, you may have seen some J-beauty products using the PA+ system online. As mentioned in our previous article, SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and is an indication of how long the product will protect you from UVB rays. Whereas the PA+ system was developed in Japan to represent how much UVA protection the product offers.


PA+ = Some UVA protection

PA++ = Moderate UVA Protection

PA+++ = High UVA Protection

PA++++ = Extremely High UVA Protection  


Why doesn’t Australia use the PA+ system and what makes Australian SPF products and imported sunscreen so different?


Although the SPF listing is a universally agreed upon ranking, the PA+ system is not. Because UVA (PA) measures ageing, it's harder to measure this in a laboratory setting, compared to UVB (SPF) which is more straightforward.


Why do some sunscreens sold in Australia have the PA+ ranking?


The TGA has chosen to leave on this information to inform customers and provide Australian’s a larger range of products. Alternatively, to get UVA protection in Australia, make sure to purchase a product with an SPF50+ rating that also offers broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection.


What’s the difference between SPF ratings in Australia Vs the rest of the world?  


You may have come across SPF100 products overseas, only to find they are listed as an SPF30+ or SPF50+ product back home. This is due strict compliance and regulations, governed by the Therapeutic Goods Administration in Australia. In fact, to be able to sell and claim that a product contains sun protection in Australia, it must be registered and examined by the TGA.


Australian Made sunscreens are some of the most consistently well-regulated SPF products available and as long as you’re choosing an SPF50+ product and applying it correctly, you will be protected from 98% of UVB rays and some UVA rays.


Prior to November 2012, SPF 50+ products were not sold in Australia. According to the Cancer Council Australia “The higher SPF offers the same level of Ultra Violet B (UVB) protection, with added Ultra Violet A (UVA) protection. UVB is the major cause of sunburn and increased skin cancer risk, while UVA contributes to ageing of the skin, as well as higher skin cancer risk’.2 


The TGA regulates sunscreens and products must meet mandatory requirements for:


Sunscreens must be manufactured by a TGA approved (GMP) facility and can only include TGA approved ingredients, each of which have been extensively assessed for safety. The TGA also monitors advertising of sun protection, making sure products do not mislead consumers.  

If you’re relying on the SPF included in a product, it’s important to ensure you’re using an SPF product sold within Australia so that you’re sure it is a high quality, verified level of sun protection. Skin Nutrient™ Sun Barrier Tone-up varieties offer SPF 50+ protection worldwide, we do not increase the ranking even when sold in countries other than Australia. We believe global consumers should have access to the most consistently well-regulated SPF protection available.


 For More Information:

  1. https://www.tga.gov.au/community-qa/sunscreens-information-consumers
  2. https://www.cancer.org.au/preventing-cancer/sun-protection/preventing-skin-cancer/spf50sunscreen.html
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