Broad Spectrum


UV filter

Broad Spectrum description

Term that refers to a sunscreen’s ability to protect the skin from both UVA and UVB rays from the sun. Current FDA regulations state that in order for any SPF-rated product to make a broad spectrum claim, it must pass what’s known as a critical wavelength test and have the required testing done to confirm its SPF rating is 15 or greater. Any SPF-rated product below SPF 15 can only make a broad spectrum claim that applies to sunburn prevention, not skin ageing (wrinkles, brown spots) or skin cancer. The new labeling will also tell consumers on the back of the product that sunscreens labeled as both “Broad Spectrum” and “SPF 15” (or higher) not only protect against sunburn, but, if used as directed with other sun protection measures, can reduce the risk of skin cancer and early skin ageing. For these broad spectrum products, higher SPF (Sun Protection Factor) values also indicate higher levels of overall protection. By contrast, any sunscreen not labeled as “Broad Spectrum” or that has an SPF value between 2 and 14, has only been shown to help prevent sunburn. Sunscreen products that are not broad spectrum or that are broad spectrum with SPF values from 2 to14 will be labeled with a warning that reads: “Skin Cancer/Skin Ageing Alert: Spending time in the sun increases your risk of skin cancer and early skin ageing. This product has been shown only to help prevent sunburn, not skin cancer or early skin ageing.”

Peer-reviewed, substantiated scientific research is used to assess ingredients in this dictionary. Regulations regarding constraints, permitted concentration levels and availability vary by country and region.

Ingredient ratings


Proven and supported by independent studies. Outstanding active ingredient for most skin types or concerns.


Necessary to improve a formula's texture, stability, or penetration.


Generally non-irritating but may have aesthetic, stability, or other issues that limit its usefulness.


There is a likelihood of irritation. Risk increases when combined with other problematic ingredients.


May cause irritation, inflammation, dryness, etc. May offer benefit in some capability but overall, proven to do more harm than good.


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Not rated

We have not yet rated this ingredient because we have not had a chance to review the research on it.