Sunbathers in Sheffield today admitted not understanding the UVA star ratings on sun cream.
It comes after blogger, a Bristol Parent, a page with 7.6K likes on Facebook, run by blogger Eleanor Willock shared a post about little known facts she had learned about sun cream. Her post was shared over 100,000 times on the social media platform.
She said: “Very often it’s the cheaper own brand creams that have the better star rating. Pass it on!”
She explains how looking at the UVA star rating and not just the SPF can help you pick a more effective sun cream.
The post reads: “All good sun cream has a UVA rating from zero to five. The star rating shows us how much UVA it’s blocking relative to how much UVB.”
The well known SPF rating, such as SPF 30 or 50, does not apply to all sun damage, it only regards UVB rays.
Ross Morris, a Univeristy of Sheffield student, said: “I look for the SPF rating. With the UVA rating I wouldn’t be sure what to look for. I think SPF is the more obvious thing to me, it’ something that I notice. I know what UVA rays are but I don’t know much about them.”
The star rating ranges from zero to five and it shows the percentage of UVA radiation absorbed by the sunscreen in comparison to the amount of UVB radiation absorbed by the sun cream.
UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin and are known as the dominant ‘tanning rays’, both UVA and UVB rays can cause damage.
Philippa Torr, a Univeristy of Sheffield student, said: “I know what the star rating is but I don’t know what they represent, I just know more stars is better. I think there should be more done to educate people on the star ratings and what is means.”
The UVA star rating system is its own separate system focusing only on UVA protection.
Prof Jayne Lawrence, chief scientist for the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, told the BBC: “Clearly many consumers do not realise the SPF rating applies only to the amount of protection offered against UVB rays, not UVA rays – both of which can damage the skin and cause skin cancer.
“People should not have to pick their way through complicated dual ratings information to understand how sunscreen works and the amount of protection it potentially provides.”
Despite initially suggesting that UVB causes burning and UVA causes cancer she has since corrected her post.
Both UVB and UVB contribute to premature skin ageing, eye damage, and skin cancers.