noun - Sunscreen (also commonly known as sunblock, sun tan lotion, sun screen, or sunburn cream) is a lotion, spray, gel or other topical product that absorbs or reflects some of the sun's ultraviolet (UV) radiation on the skin exposed to sunlight and thus helps protect against sunburn. Skin-lightening products have sunscreen to protect lightened skin because light skin is more susceptible to sun damage than darker skin. A number of sunscreens have tanning powder to help the skin to darken or tan; however, tanning powder does not provide protection from UV rays. Biodegradable sunscreens are developed to minimize damage to the marine environment.
Sunscreens contain one or more of the following ingredients:
- Organic chemical compounds that absorb ultraviolet light.
- Inorganic particulates that reflect, scatter, and absorb UV light (such as titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, or a combination of both).
- Organic particulates that mostly absorb light like organic chemical compounds, but contain multiple chromophores, may reflect and scatter a fraction of light like inorganic particulates, and behave differently in formulations than organic chemical compounds.
Depending on the mode of action sunscreens can be classified into physical sunscreens (i.e., those that reflect the sunlight) or chemical sunscreens (i.e., those that absorb the UV light).
Medical organizations such as the American Cancer Society recommend the use of sunscreen because it aids in the prevention of developing squamous cell carcinomas and basal-cell carcinomas. However, the use of sunscreens is controversial for various reasons. Many sunscreens do not block UVA radiation, which does not cause sunburn but can increase the rate of melanoma, another kind of skin cancer, and photodermatitis, so people using sunscreens may be exposed to high UVA levels without realizing it.  The use of broad-spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreens can address this concern.
Franz Greiter is credited with introducing the concept of sun protection factor (SPF) in 1962, which has become a worldwide standard for measuring the effectiveness of sunscreen when applied at an even rate of 2 milligrams per square centimeter (mg/cm2). Some controversy exists over the usefulness of SPF measurements, especially whether the 2 mg/cm2 application rate is an accurate reflection of people’s actual use.
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