Sunscreen protection in the ultraviolet A region: how to measure the effectiveness
Products containing ultraviolet (UV) radiation absorbing or scattering ingredients provide varying degrees of protection from sunlight (or other UV sources), thus minimizing the deleterious effects on the skin. The “sun protection factor” (SPF) of sunscreen products has become a well recognized indicator of protection against sunburn induced predominantly by ultraviolet B radiation (UVB: 290–320 nm). A similar system of denoting sunscreen protection from ultraviolet A (UVA: 320–400 nm) radiation has not been universally recognized. A variety of test methods have been proposed, both in vitro and in vivo, each with specific virtues and shortcomings. Regulatory agencies and industry have been reviewing the available methods over the past decade in an effort to develop consumer meaningful claims and appropriate substantiation methods. This article reviews these test methodologies, in vitro and in vivo, as well as the biological background that establishes the need for UVA protection, and the UVA content of solar radiation and its variability.