PA+++ vs SPF?

In response to the ABCs of SPF… I’ve been asked the difference between SPF and PA+, PA++ and PA+++ (typically indicated below the SPF rating, as seen in picture above).

The PA rating system is used to indicate the UVA protection. The PA rating system ranges from +(least) to +++(most). There is no UVA protection rating system currently recognized by the FDA in the States. The PA system is mostly found in Asian products.

To recap, SPF indicates UVB protection and PA indicates UVA protection. So while it doesn’t hurt to see the PA rating on a product, please reference the ABCs of SPF to make sure you’re getting the ingredients you need to protect against both UVA and UVB.

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13 Comments

  1. gina
    November 17, 2011 / 11:10 am

    the clarins hp plus sunblock used to have the PA+++ rating on the bottle. they just changed their packaging recently though and it no longer shows the PA rating. I asked at the counter and they said it was the same formula, but for some reason i find myself hesitant. why remove it????

    • November 17, 2011 / 12:24 pm

      Probably wanted to update the bottle??? Also, people prob didn’t even know what it stood for… But you do!!!!!!

      • gina
        November 17, 2011 / 9:51 pm

        haha. they had a news clip on it a few months back where they were saying PA rating was more important than SPF. it made me very PA conscious!! but yeah. some versions of the new bottle have it, some don’t. it just makes me oddly nervous!!

  2. November 3, 2011 / 3:14 pm

    i never knew about PA!!!
    i’ll definitely have to look for it in my next sunscreen! can you recommend a sunscreen that won’t leave my face looking greasy? most of the time sunscreen tends to make me look shiny….especially when i apply it with foundation 🙁

    • November 3, 2011 / 4:04 pm

      here are some options!
      1. Make sure your sunscreen, moisturizer, primer and foundation are all oil free. Some oil free sunscreens I’ve used in the past include : Kiehl’s Super Fluid UV Defense SPF 50, Clarin’s UV Plus SPF 40, and Aveeno Continuous Protection for the Face SPF 30. These are all oil free and protect against UVA and UVB.
      2. Consider cutting down the number of products. Maybe you can use a moisturizing foundation, and skip the moisturizer. Or consider using a moisturizer and foundation both containing sun protection and skip a separate sunscreen.
      3. Peter Thomas Roth’s Instant Mineral SPF 30 may be a good option as well. This product contains physical ingredients (titanium dioxide and zinc oxide) that sits on top of your skin and provides complete UVA and UVB protection. Also great for reapplication throughout the day!

      Hope this helps!~

  3. alicia
    November 1, 2011 / 5:46 pm

    yes i agree.. i have used sunblock with PA, and without PA… and the different is so huge..!! when i used the sunblock with PA+++, i didn’t get tanned or burned at all, even if i stayed out in the sun for hours (almost 5~6 hours)…!! mine was korean brand.. and it really worked.. and now i never buy sunblock without PA mark..

    • November 1, 2011 / 6:13 pm

      really?! that’s great. Did you try something that’s in lotion form or in a powder?

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