Sunscreen, UV Rays, & Sun Protection FAQs

Sun Protection and Safety FAQs

Q: What are UVA rays?

A: UVA rays are harmful rays from the sun that penetrate deep into skin to cause long‐term visible signs of sun damage. UVA rays are also known to lead to early skin aging.

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Q: What are UVB rays?

A: UVB rays are harmful rays from the sun that cause sunburn. Unlike UVA rays which penetrate deep into skin, UVB rays penetrate the surface of skin.

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Q: Which is more harmful: UVA rays or UVB rays?

A: The majority of skin damage from the sun is caused by UVB rays—including certain skin cancers, skin aging, and sunburn—but both UVA and UVB rays are harmful and can contribute to skin cancer.

Q: What does "Broad Spectrum" mean on a sunscreen label?

A: If a sunscreen is labeled "Broad Spectrum", it means it has been proven to protect skin from the sun's two types of damaging rays (also known as UV rays). These two types of UV rays are called UVA and UVB, and they can both contribute to skin cancer and cause damage to skin.

Q: Are all Broad Spectrum SPF sunscreens the same?

A: No, not all Broad Spectrum sunscreens are created equal. Those formulated with HELIOPLEX® TECHNOLOGY offer clinically proven superior protection that goes beyond FDA requirements and is proven to be photostable.

Q: What does SPF mean? What does it measure?

A: SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and measures how well a sunscreen protects your skin from sunburn. Essentially, as the SPF value increases, so does your sun protection. But remember, SPF isn't the only thing you should read on a sunscreen label!

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Q: Can I wear sunscreen during water activities?

A: Yes! In 2011 the FDA ruled all sunscreens intended for water activity be labeled water‐resistant. Look for this on the label in addition to the specified effectiveness time; either 40 or 80 minutes. Always remember to reapply after 40/80 minutes of swimming, immediately after towel drying or every 2 hours for maximum protection.

Q: How can I reduce my risk of sun damage?

A: Minimize your time in the sun and wear protective clothing—such as a long‐sleeve shirt, broad‐rimmed hat, and sunglasses. To reduce your risk of skin cancer, early skin aging and sunburn, use a sunscreen daily with Broad Spectrum protection, SPF 30 or higher.

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Q: I heard the FDA wants to prohibit the labeling of sunscreens with an SPF level greater than 50 — is that true?

A: The FDA is currently deciding whether or not there should be a maximum SPF value. NEUTROGENA® scientists have submitted data to the FDA supporting the use of Broad Spectrum SPF values higher than 50.

Q: When should I use sunscreen?

A: Every day! Exposure to the sun's harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays can add up over time, all year long—not just in the summer. You may be surprised to learn that some common routines can increase UV exposure each week, including walking to your car on a cloudy day, driving to school in the morning, or working near a window.

Q: How much sunscreen should I use?

A: Dermatologists recommend that an adult use one ounce of sunscreen lotion—about the size of a golf ball—to cover their entire body. If you're using a sunscreen spray, apply it slowly and evenly until the product is "glistening" on the skin. This should take 2 to 4 seconds of continuous spraying per limb, and 5 to 8 seconds for the torso and back. For a stick sunscreen, apply 3 to 4 passes back and forth per area.

Q: What is a mole?

A: Moles are growths on skin. They are usually black or brown, and they are made up of cells, including pigmented skin cells known as melanocytes.

Q: Are moles dangerous?

A: Most moles are harmless, but a mole becomes dangerous when it develops into a skin cancer called melanoma. That's why it's important to check your skin every month in order to recognize changes in a mole that can suggest skin cancer may be developing

Q: Should I ever use a sunscreen with less than SPF 15?

A: At NEUTROGENA®, our experts recommend a daily Broad Spectrum SPF sunscreen of 30 or higher. Of course, you can always use daily moisturizer or make‐up containing an SPF of less than 15—as long as you apply an additional layer of Broad Spectrum SPF 30+ sunscreen to provide daily protection.