Sunscreen- UVA and UVA

Let’s really try to understand why we need to protect our skin from those nasty rays.  Sunscreen helps protect the skin from the sun's ultraviolet radiation (UV). SPF (Sun Protection Factor) is a measure of how well a sunscreen will protect the skin from UVB rays. Ok, lets break this down a little… If you don’t wear sunscreen and it takes 20 minutes for your skin to start turning red, then if you were to use an SPF 15 sunscreen, then you should prevent burning 15 times longer, that is 5 hours of not burning.  

SPF 15 blocks 93 % of UVB rays.  

SPF 30 blocks 97 % of UVB rays.

SPF 50 blocks 98 % of UVB rays. 

What are UV rays and why do we need protection from it?

There are two types of ultraviolet radiation (UV Rays) that cause damage to the skin, prematurely aging and increase the risk of cancer, UVA and UVB. 

UVA rays penetrate the skin more deeply and are associated with lines, wrinkles, leathering, sun spots, sagging and other scary effects of aging. UVA rays are responsible for the signs of aging because they are longer wave lengths.  UVA rays are able to penetrate as deep as the basal layer of the dermis, affecting the keratinocytes,  contributing to and maybe even initiating the development of skin cancers. UVA rays are always around us, no matter the season or the weather, including the rainy Seattle weather I live in.  

UVB rays are responsible for causing most skin cancers and those nasty sunburns. UVB rays are shorter in wave length and are not always the same strength year round. They are stronger in the summer months and why we feel like we get burned more during those months! But that doesn't mean we don’t protect all year long.

If sunscreens only protect against UVB, how do we protect against UVA?

That’s were Broad Spectrum Sunscreen comes in, this is our UVA and UVB protection.  The United States does not require sunscreens to offer any UVA protection, so if you worry about keeping your skin looking young, then Broad Spectrum would be your best bet. 

Ok, so, what have we learned?  We NEED to protect our skin all year long to keep it looking young and safe from skin cancer.  This is pretty much a DUHH, why wouldn’t I want to look young and beautiful longer?!  

Here are some other VERY important tips to follow: 

  • Everyone over 6 months should wear sun protection. 
  • Always put your children in the shade.  That is they best protection against harmful rays. 
  • Apply the suggested amount onto your skin.  That means 1 full ounce for a body application. If you don’t, then it will NOT effectively protect your skin.  This is NOT the time to skimp! 
  • Your work windows generally filter our UVB rays, so while you sit there in your office, those pesky UVA rays are causing harm. 
  • Just because your foundation has SPF, doesn’t mean that you are protected during the entire day.  Generally, foundation with SPF wears off within 2 hours.  So, REAPPLY! 
  • Speaking of reapplication, each bottle notes the minutes that it will protect your skin. Apply at least 30 minutes before exposing skin to the elements.  That gives it the needed time to soak into you skin.    

I know this is a lot of information to take in and I also know this is just the tip of the sun protection iceberg, but this little bit of information will help you understand the importance to protecting our beautiful skin.  We only have one face, so lets really take care of it as best as we can.  

Now, I want to know, what is your favorite sun protector?  Leave a comment and share with other readers!