Ultraviolet radiation is an important subject when it comes to taking care of our skin when exposed to sunlight. In the past, only UVB rays were of major concern, so many sunscreens only provided protection for this one kind of radiation.
However, in recent years, research has shown that UVA rays can also be harmful. We’ve learned that both UVB and UVA rays can reach us through the atmosphere and contribute to conditions such as premature signs of aging in skin, damage to eyes, and skin cancers.
The best way to protect ourselves against these damaging ultraviolet rays is to wear a sunscreen with broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection. The term “broad spectrum” is used to label sunscreens that keep us safe from both types of UV rays.
UVA rays make up about 95% of the UV radiation that reaches the earth’s surface. UVA rays are less intense than UVB rays, but they are equally present all day, rather than strongest when the sun is highest. They can also reach our skin through glass and clouds. UVA rays affect the skin at a deeper level than UVB rays, getting into the base layer of the epidermis and contributing to, or even initiating, skin cancer development. They also play a large part in skin aging and wrinkling, or photoaging.
UVA rays are dominantly responsible for tanning the skin, whether outdoors or in a tanning salon, which causes an accumulation of damage over time. Sunlamps used in tanning salons emit UVA rays that are roughly 12 times as powerful as the sun, which is why people who use tanning beds are so much more likely to develop skin cancer.
UVB rays cause damage to the top layers of skin, at a more superficial level, and cause reddening and burning. UVB rays are most prevalent during peak hours, when the sun is highest in the sky. In the United States, this is between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm between April and October, but UVB rays are a problem year round as well. Although they do not get to us through glass, they do bounce off reflective surfaces like snow and hit us. This means that in the winter, UVB radiation can actually hit our skin twice—once on the way down and again as it bounces back up off the snowy ground. UVB rays also play a role in tanning, skin cancer, and photoaging.
The best way to protect yourself against the harmful effects of UVA and UVB radiation is to take preventive measures, like wearing sunscreen all day every day. Every time you leave the house, regardless of the time of day or season of the year, the sun’s powerful UV rays are reaching your skin. It is also wise to seek shade and cover up with clothing, hats, and umbrellas whenever possible.
In addition to seeking shade and wearing sunscreen, you should also take the time to learn which sunscreens are the safest and most effective. Dermatologists and the FDA suggest wearing a sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 30 for spending extended periods of time in the sun. It is also recommended that you choose a mineral sunscreen containing non-nano ingredients like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. These types of sunscreens offer more protection and are also reef-safe and chemical-free. Finally, you’ll want to choose a sunscreen with broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection, as mentioned above, to ensure protection against both types of UV radiation.
TropicSport offers acollection of broad spectrum UVA and UVB sunscreensthat are eco-friendly, chemical-free, and cruelty-free. Our mineral sunscreen with SPF 30 is one of our most popular products because it has passed the Australian test for water resistance up to 240 minutes. This far exceeds most water-resistant sunscreens, which are effective for 40 or 80 minutes when wet. Try one of our reef-safe sunscreens andcheck out our other natural skin care products for your face and body.