UVA vs. UVB Radiation - What You Need to Know

Jul, 21

UV radiation isn't always bad. In small doses, it actually helps us to produce the vitamin D that our bodies need. The problem occurs when UV rays frequently come in contact with our skin; its effects can be long term and detrimental. These effects show up over time when our skin is not protected. Here's exactly what you need to know about UV radiation, how it affects us, and how to keep your skin safe!

UV rays are broken down into 3 different bands: UVA, UVB, and UVC. UV wavelengths vary in size and differ in how they affect our skin.

UVC are the shortest and aren't long enough to reach our skin; UVB rays come in contact with the outer layer of the skin; UVA radiation penetrates deeper into the skin, all the way into the inner layers.


UVA UVB UVC Radiation Infographic


UVA UVB Skin Effect Infographic

Here's the breakdown:

1. UVC Radiation

UVC rays are actually the strongest, but are mostly absorbed by the atmospheric ozone. They usually aren't destructive on our skin.

2. UVB Radiation

UVB rays reach past the ozone layer to the superficial layers of our skin. It is the most prevalent cause of redness, sun burning, and skin cancer. These rays can cause changes in DNA in cells directly and be one of the top culprits to skin cancer.

The most important times to stay protected are during the spring and summer months between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm. 

UVC UVB Breakdown Infographic

 3. UVA Radiation

UVA rays permeate into the skin the deepest of the 3 different rays. They reach deep into the skin and are the predominant cause of aging, wrinkling, loose skin, and sun spots. They are not the number one culprit, but can cause changes in DNA, which eventually can lead to skin cancer.

UVA rays are present all year round and in all seasons. They are able to bounce off reflective surfaces such as water, including liquid and ice or snow. It is vital to make sure that your skin is protected whether it be summer or winter, day or even night. 

UVA Infographic

 Here's a few tips to staying protected:

1. Choose a UPF 50 hat or clothing to keep your skin safe and protected from harmful UV rays. Use sunscreen for the hottest parts of the day (10am - 4pm.)

2. Remember to be cautious even during the winter months for UVA rays and stay protected when skiing or snowboarding. (UVA rays can reflect off snow or ice.)

For more tips, click here to read our previous blog post on 10 tips to staying sun protected!

Always remember,

Block out the sun, not the fun! 

Sharon Lee

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1 comment

Ed Reiss

August 13, 2016

Many authorities advise getting getting a certain measured, moderate amount of directs sunlight, usually on arms, legs, and face in order to keep Vitamin D at healthy levels. I fear that even that moderate amount of sunlight would also have the unwanted effect of further photoaging my skin. I currently try to resolve this dilemma by wearing shorts and thereby getting some sunlight on my lower legs during the summer, but wearing protective clothing on all other areas of my body, including arms, hands, neck, face, and head. Am I correct about the dangers of photoaging from even moderate amounts of sunlight? Is exposing just my legs during the summer sufficient to keep Vitamin D levels healthy?


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