Natural Sunlight is composed of a mixture of UVB and UVA light waves.
We’ve known for years that exposure to “sunburn rays” (Ultraviolet B, UVB) causes sun damage, but studies now show that daily sun exposure to UVA rays is just as damaging.
When sunscreens were first developed, the SPF number system was created as a way to measure UVB protection and how long you can stay in the sun without burning. With this new understanding of the importance of UVA in sun damage, sunscreen labels have had to change. They still say SPF and you should look for SPF 30 or above to protect from UVB. Also, look for the words broad spectrum to ensure UVA protection as well.
UVB rays are dangerous because they:
- Allow sunburn
- Lead to skin cancer
- Cause premature aging
UVA rays are dangerous because they:
- Are the most intense UV sun ray and are intense all day long and all year long
- Do not feel warm, like UVB rays, so you don’t realize you are getting sun damage
- Come through window glass
- Are not blocked by all sunscreens
- Lead to skin cancer and premature aging
Sunscreen should be worn everyday on ALL sun exposed areas of skin to prevent:
- skin cancer
- age spots
- “farmer’s neck”
- those purple blotches (actinic purpura) and skin tears that happen on the arms
- thin skin on the back of your hands that lets your veins show through
- the red/brown discoloration that occurs on the sides of your neck over the years (poikiloderma of Civatte)
Bottom Line, be a savvy label reader.
- SPF 30 or higher
- Broad Spectrum
- Water resistant 80 minutes for sweating or swimming