Tag Archives: PABA

Sunscreen Active Ingredients Explained – Vine Vera Reviews

You know that you are supposed to use sunscreen every single day even during those months where the sun is scarce. Using a sunscreen protects your skin against damage from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Damage can be in the form of sunburn, sun spots, premature wrinkles or even skin cancer. However, what you may not know is what exactly the active ingredients in sunscreen are or how they protect your skin against all of the aforementioned types of damage. We explain here what the active ingredients in sunscreens really do.

In a document that gives consumers important information about sunscreens, the Environmental Protection Agency states that “[b]road spectrum sunscreens often contain a number of chemical ingredients that absorb UVA and UVB radiation.” In addition to chemical compounds that provide sun protection, there are also physical compounds that work a bit differently and are frequently referred to as sun blocks. The physical compounds zinc oxide and titanium dioxide scatter, reflect and absorb both UVA and UVB rays.

Woman spraying sunscreen on her legs.

Chemical Sunscreens
The majority of people applying sunscreens are using a chemical sunscreen, and these are often the most recommended by skin experts. The compounds contained in chemical sunscreens are approved by the FDA include:

  • Aminobenzoic acid (PABA) – Provides minimal UVA protection extensive UVB protection.
  • Avobenzone – Provides extensive UVA protection and limited UVB protection.
  • Cinoxate – Provides limited UVA and extensive UVB protection.
  • Dioxybenzone – Provides considerable UVA protection and extensive UVB protection.
  • Ecamsule – Provides extensive UVA protection limited UVB protection.
  • Homosalate – Provides minimal UVA protection and extensive UVB protection.
  • Menthyl anthranilate – Provides considerable UVA protection and extensive UVB protection.
  • Octocrylene – Provides limited UVA protection and extensive UVB protection.
  • Octyl methoxycinnamate – Provides limited UVA protection and extensive UVB protection.
  • Octyl salicylate – Provides minimal UVA protection and extensive UVB protection.
  • Oxybenzone – Provides considerable UVA protection and extensive UVB protection.
  • Padimate O – Provides limited UVA protection and extensive UVB protection.
  • Phenylbenzimidazole – Provides limited UVA protection and extensive UVB protection.
  • Sulisobenzone – Provides considerable UVA protection and extensive UVB protection.
  • Trolamine salicylate – Provides limited UVA protection and extensive UVB protection.

The good news about chemical sunscreens is you do not have to worry about finding one with extensive UVA and extensive UVB protection because the vast majority of chemical sunscreens contain combinations of chemical compounds so that you are as protected as possible. This is why they are labeled as broad-spectrum sunscreens. Skin care experts suggest using an SPF of 30 (or higher) and always making sure that it provides broad-spectrum coverage.

Woman applying sunscreen on her shoulders.

Physical Sunscreens
There are currently two active ingredients approved by the FDA. They are:

  • Titanium dioxide – Provides considerable UVA protection and extensive UVB protection.
  • Zinc oxide – Provides extensive protection from both UVA and UVB rays.

One of the reasons that these active ingredients are not as popular as their chemical counterparts is the application, the appearance and the potential for breakouts. Still, these physical ingredients are beneficial protection from both UVA and UVB rays and these work immediately upon application whereas chemical sunscreens take about 20 to 30 minutes to absorb into the skin.

Skin care experts, while often recommending chemical sunscreens, remind you that the only effective sunscreen is the one that you wear. Choose the type of sun protection that makes the most sense for your skin and your lifestyle and apply before any sun exposure.