9 Terms You See on Sunscreen Bottles, Defined

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iStock

Long days and strong rays mean it's time to upgrade your basic daily sunscreen habit to a full-on slather. We all know that using sunscreen helps to prevent sunburns and skin damage, but we're stumped when it comes to the gibberish slew of letters and numbers on the label. Read on to learn what nine common sunscreen terms mean.

1. SPF: SUN PROTECTION FACTOR

SPF tells you how much much UVB light (more on this in a bit) is filtered out, so it’s often used as a proxy for how long you can stay in the sun without doing damage (to an extent). But the FDA cautions that SPF shouldn’t be thought of in that way, as there are so many variables that go into solar radiation. Instead, they suggest using SPF as a comparison: A higher SPF provides more protection than a lower SPF. According to Jeremy A. Brauer, a board certified Manhattan dermatologist, “SPF 30 blocks 97 percent of UVB rays, SPF 50 blocks 98 percent.” Keep in mind that no sunscreen can block 100 percent of UVB rays.

2. UVA: ULTRAVIOLET A

UVA radiation is one type of light that causes skin aging and skin cancer. According to Adam Friedman, Associate Professor of Dermatology at the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences, UVA light "does not burn, but is sneaky and penetrates deeper than UVB, accelerating the aging of your skin and causing skin cancer." UVA rays also contribute the most to our UV exposure.

3. UVB: ULTRAVIOLET B

UVB light causes sunburns and is more intense than UVA. These rays contribute less to our overall UV exposure than UVA rays do, but have serious, immediate effects on the topmost layers of skin.

4. BROAD SPECTRUM UVA/UVB

The term broad spectrum means that the sunscreen protects against both UVA and UVB light—all sunscreens block UVB (temporarily), but some let UVA slip though. It’s one of the most important markers to look for because both types of light can cause skin cancer.

5. PHYSICAL/MINERAL SUNSCREEN

Sunscreen formulas can be physical, chemical, or a combination of both. Physical sunscreens act as a literal barrier: They block the light from reaching your skin, reflecting the UV radiation outwards.

6. CHEMICAL SUNSCREEN

A chemical sunscreen works in a different way: It absorbs, rather than blocks, the light. When the radiation is absorbed by the sunscreen, it’s converted to heat that is then released by your skin. Friedman says that the problem with chemical sunscreen is “each time they do their thing, a percentage of the filter stops working. So ultimately over time, it can't change that UV energy into harmless warmth.”

7. WATER RESISTANT

You’ll never see an FDA-approved sunscreen that is "waterproof," or sweatproof for that matter. Instead, the FDA requires the label to note how long the product can last in water. You’ll see this on the bottle written as “water resistant, 40 minutes,” for example. This means that after 40 minutes of wear, the sunscreen will need to be reapplied because it won’t work as well—even if you haven't been in the water.

8. SPORT

The FDA doesn’t regulate the use of words like “sport” when it comes to sunscreen. This is a marketing term used to make the product more appealing to active people. If you're interested in a sunscreen with staying power, pay more attention to the SPF and water resistance.

9. PA+ RATING

If you pick up a bottle of sunscreen while on vacation or order it online, you might be confronted with "PA" followed by some plus signs instead of the familiar SPF. The PA rating system, common in Japan and South Korea, tells you how well the sunscreen protects from UVA rays, instead of UVB. The more plus signs that follow PA, the better. PA ++++ offers the most UVA protection, PA + the least.

6 Protective Mask Bundles You Can Get On Sale

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pinkomelet/iStock via Getty Images Plus

Daily life has changed immeasurably since the onset of COVID-19, and one of the ways people have had to adjust is by wearing protective masks out in public places, including in parks and supermarkets. These are an essential part of fighting the spread of the virus, and there are plenty of options for you depending on what you need, whether your situation calls for disposable masks to run quick errands or the more long-lasting KN95 model if you're going to work. Check out some options you can pick up on sale right now.

1. Cotton Face Masks; $20 for 4

Protective Masks with Patterns.
Triple7Deals

This four-pack of washable cotton face masks comes in tie-dye, kids patterns, and even a series of mustache patterns, so you can do your part to mask germs without also covering your personality.

Buy it: $20 for four (50 percent off)

2. CE- and FDA-Approved KN95 Mask; $50 for 10

A woman putting on a protective mask.
BetaFresh

You’ve likely heard about the N95 face mask and its important role in keeping frontline workers safe. Now, you can get a similar model for yourself. The KN95 has a dual particle layer, which can protect you from 99 percent of particles in the air and those around you from 70 percent of the particles you exhale. Nose clips and ear straps provide security and comfort, giving you some much-needed peace of mind.

Buy it: $50 for 10 (50 percent off)

3. Three-Ply Masks; $13 for 10

Woman wearing a three-ply protective mask.
XtremeTime

These three-ply, non-medical, non-woven face masks provide a moisture-proof layer against your face with strong filtering to keep you and everyone around you safe. The middle layer filters non-oily particles in the air and the outer layer works to block visible objects, like droplets.

Buy it: $13 for 10 (50 percent off)

4. Disposable masks; $44 for 50

A batch of disposable masks.
Odash, Inc.

If the thought of reusing the same mask from one outing to the next makes you feel uneasy, there’s a disposable option that doesn’t compromise quality; in fact, it uses the same three-layered and non-woven protection as other masks to keep you safe from airborne particles. Each mask in this pack of 50 can be worn safely for up to 10 hours. Once you're done, safely dispose of it and start your next outing with a new one.

Buy it: $44 for 50 (41 percent off)

5. Polyester Masks; $22 for 5

Polyester protective masks.
Triple7Deals

These masks are a blend of 95 percent polyester and 5 percent spandex, and they work to block particles from spreading in the air. And because they're easily compressed, they can travel with you in your bag or pocket, whether you're going to work or out to the store.

Buy it: $22 for five (56 percent off)

6. Mask Protector Cases; $15 for 3

Protective mask case.
Triple7Deals

You're going to need to have a stash of masks on hand for the foreseeable future, so it's a good idea to protect the ones you’ve got. This face mask protector case is waterproof and dust-proof to preserve your mask as long as possible.

Buy it: $15 for three (50 percent off)

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.

7 Online Tech Course Programs That Will Help You Build New Career Skills

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dusanpetkovic/iStock via Getty Images Plus

It's always a good time to build new career skills, and with these tech-related courses, you can learn anything from the basics of Python to the ins and outs of G Suite. These courses will boost your knowledge of the digital world and help you put some valuable new bullet points on your resume. Many of these courses allow you to read through the materials for free, but if you want to take advantage of graded coursework and earn a certificate of completion to include on your LinkedIn profile or resume at the end, there will be a fee of anywhere from $39 to $49.

1. UI/UX Design Specialization

In this four-class specialization on UI/UX design, you’ll discover how to design digital experiences that users can navigate with ease. Over about four months, you’ll learn the basics of visual communication and you’ll be able to practice gathering user feedback to build intuitive, attractive websites and interfaces.

Sign up on Coursera to take all four courses in this specialization for $49 a month.

2. Python for Everybody

Python is quickly gaining ground as one of the most in-demand programming languages for employers. Plus, its fans say it’s highly readable and approachable for new programmers just starting to learn a coding language. If you want to understand the basics of Python, from 101 principles to more advanced database design, these courses will get you started.

Sign up on Coursera to take all five courses in this specialization for $49 a month.

3. Data Science Professional Certificate

Data science is one of the fastest growing professions in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In this nine-course professional certificate program, you’ll start by learning basic data science methodology before moving into how to use Python and SQL to analyze and visualize data to forecast future trends. IBM estimates that you’ll complete the entire certificate in about 10 months if you commit four hours per week, but the timing is flexible enough to suit any schedule.

Sign up on Coursera to take all nine courses in this specialization for $39 a month.

4. Computer Architecture

This course, taught by an electrical engineering professor at Princeton, teaches students how to design computer hardware that supports powerful software. But be forewarned: This is an advanced class intended for students with extensive knowledge in computer science. If you’re looking for a beginner-level course, this class—also from Princeton—may be a better fit.

Sign up on Coursera for free.

5. AI for Everyone

If you’re worried that artificial intelligence will drive you out of the workforce, this course will help. Over the course of four weeks, you’ll learn the basics of what is and isn’t possible through AI—and you may even gain some ideas for how to use AI to augment your own career.

Sign up on Coursera for $49.

6. G Suite Administration Specialization

Become a Google Cloud expert with this series of courses put together by Google itself. Over about two months, you’ll learn management tactics and security guidelines for using Gmail, Google Drive, Google Docs, and Calendar. This specialization prepares participants to become G Suite administrators at their respective companies and organizations.

Sign up on Coursera to take all five courses in this specialization for $49 a month.

7. Introduction to Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is near the top of the list of skills employers are looking for, according to LinkedIn. In this introductory course, you’ll gain a basic understanding of cloud-based networks and get some practice working with IBM Cloud.

Sign up on Coursera for $49.

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.