Your sunscreen protects against UVB, UVA1 & UVA2?

Hello fellow sunscreen addicts! Don’t you just love it when you read another post about sun protection? I know I do, even if it’s my own. Heh. Okay, I know I wrote a post about the best sunscreen ingredients back in 2010. Today’s post is an update of that post and looks at the bestest of best sunscreen active ingredients that protects our skin against UVB, UVA1 & UVA2, which make up the UV radiation responsible for skin aging.

UVR wavelength facts
As many of you already know, there are three wavelengths of UV radiation – UVA, UVB and UVC. UVC is absorbed by the ozone layer and does not reach the earth. Hence, it has no impact on our skin. UVB rays, ranging from 290 to 320 nanometers, account for up to 5 percent of the UV radiation we are exposed to. UVA rays, however, account for up to 95 percent of the UV radiation we are exposed to and they are divided into two wave ranges: UVA1 (340-400 nanometers) and UVA2 (320-340 nanometers). (source:

Protection mostly against UVA2 only
Both UVA and UVB rays affect our skin. UVB rays are the rays that burn or cause our skin to become red. Within UVA rays, it is UVA1 that makes up 75 percent of the ultraviolet radiation that affects our skin and cause premature aging (source: AAD). But do you know that many sunscreens are made of ingredients that only protects against UVB rays and UVA2 rays? Yes, some sunscreens are pretty much useless to protect us against premature skin aging because they are not made of ingredients that protects against the pervasive UVA1!

So what are the bestest sunscreen active ingredients that protect against UVB and both UVA1 and UVA2? I could only find three listed in Skinacea.

Active Ingredients UV Rays Wavelengths
Zinc Oxide UVB, UVA1 & UVA2
Tinosorb S UVB, UVA1 & UVA2
Tinosorb M UVB, UVA1 & UVA2

Mexoryl did not make it to the list for Mexoryl SX protects against UVA1 and UVA2 while Mexoryl XL protects only against UVA2. Neither of them protects against UVB rays.

Check your sunscreen
So does your sunscreen incorporate any of these three ingredients? Power to your sunscreen if it contains all three ingredients! But if it does not, take comfort that it does not necessary mean that your sunscreen is not offering broad spectrum protection as it can be using a combination of ingredients to achieve protection against UVB, UVA1 & UVA2. You can look up the list at Skinacea to have a better idea of how much protection you’re getting from your sunscreen based on the ingredients.

Sunscreens with those three ingredients
Personally, Zinc Oxide is still my favorite ingredient and thank goodness, it’s a pretty popular ingredient in many sunscreens. I haven’t tried anything with Tinosorb but if you’re keen to check it out, you can look up sunscreens from Avene, Bioderma, Eucerin, Uriage and RoC. Do note that the ingredient Tinosorb S is also known as Bis-Ethylhexyloxyphenol Methoxyphenyltriazine, while Tinosorb M is also known as Methylene Bis Benzotriazolyl Tetramethylbutylphenol.


  1. Swati says:

    would check out if my sunscreen has these ingredients but I know it doesn’t have zinc oxide and mine is neutrogena so I am not sure if it has the other two either!!! guess its time to get MVO, I have been delaying it for too long!!!
    Swati last post is: Should I go for a baby or not? {Women Stuff}

  2. Sesame says:

    I don’t think Neutrogena uses Tinosorb cos Tinosorb are found only in European sunscreens.

  3. Jyoan says:

    I also love physical sunscreens!
    Jyoan last post is: FOTD: Urban Decay Vice Palette and Sephora Haul

  4. Rena says:

    I use “La Defense SPF30” which protects against UVA/UVB/UVC. Key substance is zinc oxide but not the nano types, which I consider safer.

  5. Sesame says:

    Yeah, they’re always my favorite.

  6. Sesame says:

    That’s great. I prefer the non micronized ones too cos I actually feel safer that they offer better coverage and protection.

  7. EcoBeauty says:

    I miss your sun protection awareness posts! I’ve never read about UVA1 and UVA2 before so ‘wow’. I haven’t switched sunscreen products yet, still using MVO, so I guess I should be safe, haha.
    EcoBeauty last post is: EthicBioskin Organics: Really, Really Premium Handmade Skincare Products from Etsy! (Review + Giveaway)

  8. felicia says:

    what about la roche-posay anthelios W sunscreen? would love to know abt that..

  9. Audris Tan May Ching says:

    A timely entry and I felt reassured to know that Zinc Oxide blocks against UVA1 and that most of my ss do have that component ?

    Do keep the sunscreen posts coming, Sesame! Always happy to learn more from your sharing.

  10. Sesame says:

    Usually UVA damage don’t show up till one or two decades later. But if you use zinc oxide, you’re giving your skin more protection.

  11. kaithlin93 says:

    does concealer that has titanium dioxide and zinc oxide as the first 2 ingredient gives UV protection?

  12. Sesame says:

    I’m not sure about the ingredients…did a google and different SPF turned up. But LRP usually use Mexoryl SX and XL with a combination of other UVB protectants sometimes including titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. So should be sufficient.

  13. Sesame says:

    I love writing about sunscreens too but I seem to have lesser stuff to say about them these days.

  14. yay says:

    sometimes sunscreen break me out even though I used the same one (neutrogena). I tried not to layer too much after I put sunscreen on but even in the winter I tend to get dark spots in my face so I tried to use a little daily but not always happen though. I can never tell which order to go. I usually put sunscreen wait a bit then primer, tinted moisturizer or foundation then powder & if i feel like blush then I use blush a little. Sometimes I put moisturizer after sunscreen. I felt like sunscreen dry my face a little. haha.

  15. Sesame says:

    Yes, sometimes they can dry your skin depending on what they use. You are using too many stuff – sunscreen, moisturizer, primer. You need to eliminate one to avoid the clogging of your pores.

  16. Dora says:

    Ohhh, and I thought I finally found ‘almost’ the perfect sunscreen ?
    So I online need _one_ of those three, right? Then in my sunscreen is none of them or am I wrong?

    Its “Ladival” (not sure in which countries this is available)
    Aqua, Alcohol Denat., Butylene Glycol, Tocopherol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Glycerin, Vitis Vinifera Seed Extract, Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitat, Ubiquinone, Diisopropyl Adipate, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Disodium EDTA, Isoamyl p-Methoxycinnamate, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Ethylhexyl Triazone, Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane

    Because thats LSF (german) 30 and the 50 version has Tinosorb S, so I might just switch.

    Thanks so much! Sunscreen is still rocket science for me ?

  17. ds says:

    how to prevent white cast when applying sunscreen to face

  18. Sesame says:

    Quite hard to prevent. Best is to avoid using one that gives whitecast.

  19. Meals says:

    Hi Sesame, I’ve been using the Japanese Nivea Sun Protect Water Gel SPF 30 PA++ but after reading through your posts it doesnt seem like it provides any protection against UVA even though it specifically says PA++? Could you please look at the ingredients list for me?

    Water, alcohol, ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate, propylene glycol, cyclomethicone, caprylic/capric triglyceride, ethylhexyl triazone, sodium hyaluoronate, polyquaternium-51, butylene glycol, pyrus cydonia seed extract, phellodendron amurense bark extract, tocopheryl acetate, acrylates/C10-30 acrylate crosspolymer, carbomer, ceteth-10, methylparaben, sodium hydroxide.

    much appreciated!

  20. Sesame says:

    You’re right. Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate = Octinoxate & Ethylhexyl Triazone = Uvinul T 150. Both offers UVB protection according to the chart. I don’t see protection against UVA either but Octinoxate does provide partial UVA protection from what I know.

  21. Meals says:

    Thanks for your response Sesame. I found there’s an extra ingredient on the Japanese ingredients list that wasn’t listed in the English list. The ingredient is ‘ethylhexyl dimethoxybenzylidene dioxo imidazolidine propionate’. Apparently this is exclusive to Kao products but I can’t find whether it provides protection against UVB or UVA. Have you heard of this?

  22. Sesame says:

    It’s new to me…nothing much turned up during the search too. But going by what is available, it’s supposed to offer good protection.

  23. Meals says:

    Thank you Sesame.

  24. immunetra says:

    Great info! I never payed much attention to the ingredients thinking that SPF equals sunprotection. In fact, just like Meals, I’ve been using Nivea Sun Protect Water Gel SPF 30 PA++ and was thinking that Nivea must be a good product.
    I’m thinking about switching to the La Roche-Posay Anthelios 40, but I’m concerned about the chemical ingredients. Is it really safe?

  25. Sesame says:

    If you’re using Nivea, it’s also chemical-based so I don’t see an issue with switching to LRP.

  26. Mandy says:

    Hi I just bought nivea instant white. It says protection from uva1, uva2, uvb. And have a firming effect. But I don’t see those the 3 ingredients? Is it good enuf or should I look for another creqm. Tq

  27. Sesame says:

    It might contain other active ingredients. Got to see the ingredient list to have a better idea.

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