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Broad Spectrum Sunscreen-UVA Protection

In Brief

UVA rays damage skin and can contribute to skin cancer. You should choose a sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum protection (from UVA & UVB).

The mineral zinc oxide provides excellent protection from UVA and UVB. Zinc oxide is the only active ingredient in all Badger sunscreens.

Broad spectrum claims are verified by testing. All Badger sunscreens have been tested and provide excellent broad spectrum sunscreen protection.

UVA Sunscreen Protection

SPF only measures how much a sunscreen will protect you from UVB rays, the type that cause sunburn. Only Broad Spectrum Sunscreens also protect you from UVA rays, the type that cause suntan and skin aging. Remember, UVB = burn, UVA = aging.

The US and Canada do not require that sunscreens offer any UVA protection. Many sunscreens on the shelves, even those intended for babies and kids, offer little or no protection from UVA rays. Any "Broad Spectrum Sunscreen" or "UVA Protection" label claims must be proven by laboratory critical wavelength testing (more below).

Badger sunscreens all use the mineral zinc oxide, which provides excellent broad-spectrum protection from UVA and UVB rays. We’ve had our sunscreens independently tested and all achieved "Superior UVA Protection" based on US and international rating systems.

Broad Spectrum Sunscreen Protection

The sun emits electromagnetic radiation in different wavelengths including infrared, visible light, ultraviolet, and x-rays. Originally, sunscreens were designed to protect against UVB rays, which cause sunburn, but there was little concern for UVA rays which were thought to produce a "healthy" tan. We now know that UVA rays also damage your skin and contribute to premature skin aging and some forms of skin cancer. A good broad spectrum sunscreen will protect against most of the UVA and UVB spectrum from at least 370nm to 280nm. UVC is not a concern because it does not penetrate past the ozone layer and thus does not reach our skin. Blue light's effect on human skin is also a growing concern. See below for more info.

Ultraviolet rays and sunscreens.

Blue Light: Also called high energy visible (HEV) light, this is the closest part of the visible light spectrum to ultraviolet. These longer wavelengths (than UV rays) penetrate deeper into your skin to your collagen and elastin. HEL light has enough energy to generate free radicals damaging your skin cells and causing premature skin aging (wrinkles and loss of elasticity) and discoloration. HEV is the type of light emitted by televisions, computes, cell phones and LED and fluorescent bulbs, and while the emissions from these devices is far less than that of the sun, there is growing concern over this type of exposure. You can protect your skin from HEV light damage with products containing minerals and antioxidants. Mineral based sunscreens, such as those with zinc oxide, physically block at least some visible light from reaching your skin (chemical sunscreens block none). Products containing the mineral iron oxide (such as many tinted sunscreens) provide additional protection to your skin from HEV light. Antioxidants protect your skin by scavenging free radicals created by blue light, ultraviolet rays, air pollution, and other environmental stressors and Badger's sunscreens are very rich in natural antioxidants.

UVA: Long-wavelength solar rays of 320-400nm. UVA rays are not blocked by glass, clouds or the ozone layer and thus they comprise the vast majority of UV radiation reaching the Earth's surface. UVA rays are the same strength year-round and they penetrate the skin more deeply (into the dermis, 2nd layer of skin), causing photo aging, actinic damage (wrinkled, leathery, variously pigmented skin), and contributing to skin cancers including melanoma. The active ingredient in Badger sunscreens, the mineral zinc oxide, offers excellent UVA protection.

UVB: Short-wavelength solar rays of 290-320 nm, mostly absorbed by the ozone layer. UVB rays have different strengths, depending on sun's location, and can be reduced by clouds. UVB rays penetrate only the epidermis (outer skin) causing sunburns and are considered to be the main cause of basal and squamous cell carcinoma, and are a significant factor in melanoma. Badger's active sunscreen ingredient, zinc oxide, is effective for all wavelengths of UVB rays.

UVC: Very short-wavelength solar rays of 200-290nm. UVC rays are blocked by the ozone layer atmospheric oxygen and do not reach the surface of the Earth in significant amounts. UVC is very harmful to your skin (the next smaller wavelengths are X-Rays) but they are only a threat to astronauts and high flying pilots. Badger sunscreens are truly broad spectrum and even block UVC rays!

Active Ingredients and UVA Protection

The US FDA Sunscreen Monograph lists seventeen allowed sunscreen active ingredients. Of these actives, two are minerals while the remaining fifteen are synthetic chemicals. Each active ingredient has its own unique spectrum of protection, some protecting from just some of the UVB spectrum, some protecting from some UVB and some UVA and one chemical ingredient, Avobenzone, with just UVA protection. This is why you often see multiple active ingredients in sunscreens, so they can cover the 'broad spectrum' of UVA and UVB. Zinc oxide is the only single active ingredient that offers excellent protection from UVA and UVB rays. When using zinc oxide in a sunscreen no other active ingredients are needed.

UVA UVB Sunscreen Ingredients

Badger Sunscreen UVA Claims & Testing

Critical Wavelength Sunscreen

Critical Wavelength and UVA Protection

The critical wavelength is the wavelength at which the sunscreen allows 10% of the rays to penetrate. A sunscreen with a critical wavelength over 370nm is considered by the FDA to provide excellent UVA protection. Badger sunscreens have critical wavelengths ranging from 372nm to 385nm, offering excellent protection from UVA rays! (See illustration.)

PA Sunscreen UVA Logo

UVA Protection Factor (UVA-PF)

Based on the UVA rating system used in some Asian countries, this symbol is representative of the UVA Protection Grade (PA) or UVA Protection Factor (UVA-PF). This is the most rigorous international broad spectrum test available, and measures persistent pigment darkening (PPD) on human skin. UVA-PF results are often labeled using four levels, PA+ being the lowest level of protection and PA++++ being the highest level of protection.

The PA+++ symbol is an Asian UVA-protection grading system based on an international broad spectrum standard. Badger has tested some of our sunscreens to this standard in order to distribute in countries that require it. Products without this symbol have not been tested to this particular standard because we do not currently sell them in those markets. However, all of Badger’s sunscreens meet the FDA’s Broad Spectrum standard and protect against UVA rays.

EU UVA Sunscreen Logo

UVA Ratio

According to the EU, broad spectrum protection is determined by the ratio of UVA to UVB protection. A product must achieve a ratio of 1/3 UVA protection in order to achieve the broad spectrum label claim. The UVA protection is determined by the UVA-PF test and then calculated based on the SPF of the product. A product that has 1/3 UVA protection in relation to the UVB protection may bear this symbol.

Critical Wavelength Ultraviolet Wavelength Sunscreens

Badger Broad Spectrum Sunscreen Products