Difference between UVA and UVB Rays

The Difference between UVA and UVB Rays

In some of my previous articles I have mentioned UVA and UVB sun rays. But I’m sure a lot of you are wondering what the difference between the two are if any. After doing some research there are many difference between UVA and UVB rays. The Sun emits rays of light that come in two different wavelengths, UVA and UVB. So let’s start out with UVA rays and explain what they are.

​UVA (Ultra Violet A) – Are the shorter of the two wavelengths of light. These rays penetrate the skin deeper than UVB rays. UVA rays do not tan your skin, but rather they penetrate deeper into the skin and damage the collagen layer which over time leads to a loss of skin elasticity (Think aging Alligator skin).

​The FDA only requires sunscreens to be tested for their ability to block UVB rays, not the skin aging rays of UVA rays. UVA rays are not the main cause of skin cancer from skin exposure, but in large dosages and prolonged exposure to them they can cause skin cancer and forms of melanoma. When you think of UVA rays, think of A for Aging and no one wants to look older than they really are, right?

​UVB (Ultra Violet B) – These are the longer of the two wavelengths of sunlight. UVB rays do not penetrate very deeply into the skin, they focus all of their energy on the surface of the skin. These rays are responsible for the darkening of the skin and as a result make the skin tanner. UVB rays are also the rays that are responsible for those nasty sunburns that you get when you are exposed to prolonged sun exposure.

UVA and UVB Rays

Unfortunately, UVB rays tanning ability comes at a hefty price, Skin Cancer. These rays have been proven time and time again to cause skin cancer in both men and women. This is why the FDA bases the SPF (Sun Protection Factor) on how well a particular product protect the skin from UVB rays.

​So now that you have a better idea of the difference between UVA and UVB rays, what can you do to protect yourself from both of them at the same time? You need to use and sunscreen or sun block with both UVA and UVB protection.

A product that offers protection from both types of these harmful rays is usually termed “Broad Spectrum.” Many inferior sun care products claim high SPF numbers but only protect you from the UVB rays that cause sunburn and cancer, but do not protect you from the skin aging UVA rays. So pick up some all-around sun protection and keep your skin looking young and cancer free.

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