Decoding Sunscreen Labels: Understanding the Difference Between PA+++ and PA++++

Decoding Sunscreen Labels: Understanding the Difference Between PA+++ and PA++++


Sunscreen is a crucial component of any skincare routine, offering protection against the harmful effects of UV radiation from the sun. When shopping for sunscreen, you may have noticed labels with designations like PA+++, PA++++, or similar. In this blog post, we'll demystify these designations and explain the difference between PA+++ and PA++++, helping you make informed choices for sun protection.

Understanding PA Ratings:

The PA rating system, developed in Japan, assesses a sunscreen's level of protection against UVA rays, which are responsible for premature aging and can contribute to skin cancer. UVA rays penetrate the skin more deeply than UVB rays and are present at relatively consistent levels throughout the day and year.

The PA rating system uses plus signs (+) to indicate the level of UVA protection a sunscreen provides. The more plus signs, the higher the protection:

  • PA+: Some UVA protection.
  • PA++: Moderate UVA protection.
  • PA+++: High UVA protection.
  • PA++++: Extremely high UVA protection.

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The Difference Between PA+++ and PA++++:

The main difference between these two ratings lies in the level of UVA protection they offer:

1. PA+++ (3 pluses):

  • Sunscreens with a PA+++ rating offer high UVA protection.
  • They provide effective defense against premature aging caused by UVA rays.
  • PA+++ is suitable for daily use and for moderate sun exposure.

2. PA++++ (4 pluses):

  • Sunscreens with a PA++++ rating offer extremely high UVA protection.
  • They provide the highest level of defense against UVA radiation.
  • PA++++ is recommended for prolonged or intense sun exposure, particularly in regions with strong sunlight.

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Understanding the difference between PA+++ and PA++++ in sunscreen labels is essential for choosing the right level of UVA protection based on your sun exposure and skin type. While PA+++ offers high UVA protection for everyday use, PA++++ provides extremely high protection, making it suitable for prolonged sun exposure or regions with intense sunlight. By selecting the appropriate PA rating, you can confidently enjoy the sun while safeguarding your skin from premature aging and potential long-term damage.


UVA and UVB Protection. American Academy of Dermatology.

Sunscreen FAQs. American Academy of Dermatology.

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