Sunscreens explained

Guide | 2017-08-23 16:45:07

Sunscreens explained

Choosing a sunscreen can be very confusing as there are many terms and jargon used such as SPF, UVA, UVB, broad spectrum… But understanding them helps you choose the right sunscreen to protect you and your family, so let’s get your head around it.


The dark pigment that gives the skin its natural colour. Melanin is made in the skin by pigment cells called melanocytes. After our skin has been exposed to sunlight, the melanocytes produce more melanin in attempt to absorb further UV radiation, and so the skin becomes darker. A tan is actually a sign that the skin has been damaged and is trying to protect itself.

SPF (“Sun Protection Factor”)

it actually measures how long your skin can tolerate before sunburning, when exposed to UVB rays. For example, consider a person who can go out in the sun for 10 minutes without getting burned by the sun. If this person applies an SPF 30, he should be able to stay outside without burning for 300 minutes (10 x30 = 300). This is a rough estimate that depends on skin type, intensity of sunlight and amount of sunscreen used. Two people of differing skin types cannot use the same SPF sunscreen and stay outside in the sun for the same period of time safely.

Crème Solaire Minérale SPF50 EQ

European SPF classification

Classification européenne des SPF

EQ offers 3 different protection levels:

Medium protection
SPF 15

Medium protection SPF15

High protection
SPF 30 & 50

High protection SPF30 & 50

Very high protection
SPF 50+

Very high protection SPF50+


Dermatologists generally divide skin types into six categories, called phototypes : from phototype 1 – fair skin that burns very easily in the sun and does not tan, to phototype 6, which is darker black skin that does not burn easily. People with a darker complexion have more natural sun protection, and fair-skinned individuals are more susceptible to sunburn and to get photodamages evolving in skin cancers. The paler your natural skin tone is, the more protection it needs to prevent sunburn, the development of skin cancers and premature ageing. Knowing your phototype helps you choose the right sunscreen for you.

Phototype EQ

How to choose the right sunscreen for your skin type ?

How to choose the right sunscreen for your skin type

UV filters (chemical vs mineral)

chemical substances that stop the sun’s UV rays from reaching and damaging the skin.They fall into two categories: inorganic or mineral filters, which act as mirrors reflecting the UV radiation away from the skin; and organic or “chemical” filters, which act as sponges absorbing and mopping up the UV radiation. (Note that organic filters does not mean ‘organic’ in the environmental sense).

Différences entre filtres minéraux, filtres chimiques

Sunscreens can combine both types of filters, or use only one. However, in order to obtain the organic certification by Ecocert, a sunscreen must contain only mineral filters. The only 2 filters authorized by Ecocert are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. We only use these 2 UV filters in our EQ suncare products.

UVA protection factor : it indicates how long the sunscreen filters out UVA rays. The presence of the UVA logo on the packaging guarantees an effective protection against UVA, as required by european recommendations, which is at least ⅓ of the labelled SPF. In other words, if a product advertises SPF 30, its UVA protection must be at least 10.

Sigle UVA

EQ suncare products protect you from both UVA & UVB.


Ultraviolet rays may be divided into several types of rays: UVA, UVB and UVC rays

UVC rays (wavelengths of 100-280 nm), are the shortest and most dangerous. They are absorbed by the atmospheric ozone and do not penetrate the earth’s atmosphere. The damage to skin is caused by the sun’s ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays.

UVB rays (wavelengths of 280 – 315 nm) are short-wave solar waves that are more potent than UVA in causing sunburn and are the chief culprit in the development of skin cancers. A sunscreen with a high SPF (Sun Protection Factor) will help longer than a medium SPF to block the UVB rays and to prevent the skin from sunburning, and by extension, from damages responsible for skin cancers.

UVA rays (wavelengths of 315 – 400 nm) are long-wave solar waves that penetrate the skin more deeply than UVB rays – even on a cloudy day – and are associated with advanced skin ageing. The UVA rays affect the elastin in the skin and lead to wrinkles and sun-induced skin ageing, as well as skin cancers. They can penetrate window glass.

Critical wavelength

in order to be sure the sunscreen product offers a wide protection against UVA rays, the critical wavelength is determined on the product’s UV absorption spectrum, at the same time as the UVA protection factor is measured. To be considered as a “broad spectrum” sunscreen, the product needs to reach at least a critical wavelength value of 370 nm. A higher critical wavelength ensures a wider UV protection, especially protection from longer wavelength UVA rays.


Water Resistant Sunscreens’ retain at least 50% of their stated SPF value after a certain time in water or while sweating. The test involves assessing the SPF before and after water immersion, and then determining the percentage of SPF retention. If SPF retention is higher than 50%, the product is deemed water resistant.

No sunscreen is 100% water resistant. Even if the label states a four hour water resistance, you still need to reapply every two hours to maintain the same level of protection and reapply immediately after swimming, sweating or towel drying.

Resistance à l'eau des crèmes solaires


In cosmetic products, ‘nanomaterial’ refers to an insoluble or biopersistent and intentionally manufactured material. A nanomaterial has one or more external dimensions, or an internal structure, on the scale from 1 to 100 nm. This definition is indicated by european regulation (EC) No 1223/2009.

Since July 11th 2013, nanomaterials must be labelled in the list of ingredients (INCI list) with the word [NANO] (in brackets), following the name of the substance. You will not find it in any of our EQ products.

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