Are all chemical UVA blockers the same?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

Not all UVA blockers are the same. Some ingredients that provide the best protection against both UVA and UVB radiation include the following:

  • Avobenzone
  • Cinoxate
  • Ecamsule
  • Menthyl anthranilate
  • Octyl salicylate
  • Oxybenzone- Sulisobenzone
  • Titanium dioxide
  • Zinc oxide
Sunscreens that protect against both types of rays are labeled as "broad spectrum." Only a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF will truly help protect you against skin cancer. You should look for sunscreens with an SPF of 30 or greater, and reapply often. Talk to a dermatologist for more information.


Dr. Ellen Marmur, MD
It's important to realize that chemical UVA blockers are not created equal. Though physical, mineral blockers literally shield skin from both short and long UVA wavelengths, most chemical alternatives aren't able to protect from the entire UVA spectrum. Most protect from the shortwave UVA range. Avobenzone (Parsol 1789) is the only chemical UVA block that prevents long-wave UVA rays from penetrating. But avobenzone is not photostable, so it requires a photostabilizer (such as the new Helioplex) to prevent it from degrading quickly (usually in less than two hours) in sunlight.
The differences among all these polysyllabic active ingredients are confounding but important to comprehend. Some are more protective than others, some absorb only a certain length of UVA ray, and many chemical sunscreens absorb only UVB radiation.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.