The sun gives off a spectrum of rays, including the visible spectrum (all the colour we see) and UV rays. The primary rays that penetrate through our earth’s protective ozone layers are types UVA and UVB. These UV rays are invisible to the human eye however, we feel them as heat when they hit our skin.
These rays from the sun impact our skin differently and penetrate our atmosphere differently.
UVA rays are the most common passing through our atmosphere, accounting for approximately 95% of the rays reaching the earth’s surface1. UVA-rays cause the skin to tan and burn, and they are powerful enough to harm the skin through windows and other forms of glass.
The UV rays pass through the layers of the skin and cause damage to the cells. The damage caused to cells and their structure can show as wrinkles, age spots and other symptoms of premature ageing.
The sun’s rays can damage more than just the skin cells, they can also damage the DNA by promoting mutations and breakage of the DNA. These mutations and breakages can lead to the presence of various types of skin cancers.
UVB is the primary cause of sunburns, as they are more intense than UVA rays. UVB rays are less effective at passing through the layers of the skin, but in turn, it causes more superficial damage to the skin. UVB gives the feeling of heat from the skin and plays an important role in vitamin-D production and activation in the body.
The intensity of UVB changes throughout the day and is also dependent upon the season and where in the world you are.
UV rays have the potential to cause long-term damage and therefore, it is important to look after your skin and to use the appropriate products to protect your skin. Be watchful of how long you are exposed to the sun, and remember to reapply sun protection regularly.
1.Epstein J, Wang S. (2013) UVA & UVB Skin Cancer Foundation [online] Last viewed: 24/03/2017 http://www.skincancer.org/prevention/uva-and-uvb
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