Let’s start at the top, at the very source to be exact; the sun. The sun is our source of heat and energy and reaches the earth through UV (Ultra Violet), a broad spectrum of wavelengths. UV (Ultra Violet) rays come in three variations: 1,3,6,9

  • UVA, which can penetrate through the ozone layer (Earth’s protective shield)
  • UVB, which the ozone layer can partially absorb
  • UVC, which is completely absorbed by the atmosphere

We should be mindful of both UVA and UVB rays, as they can penetrate the skin and cause significant damage: 6,10

UVA causes ageing effects and produces pigmentation. It penetrates deeper into the skin layer and indirectly damages DNA. 3,6

UVB exposure, on the other hand, causes sunburns and breaks in the DNA strand. 9,10

UVB is the main culprit behind sunburn, while UVA rays penetrate the skin more deeply and are associated with wrinkling, leathering, sagging, and other light-induced effects of aging (photoaging). They also exacerbate the carcinogenic effects of UVB rays, and increasingly are being seen as a cause of skin cancer on their own. Sunscreens vary in their ability to protect against UVA and UVB.10

How do you protect yourself from UVA & UVB rays?

Broad spectrum sunscreen can act as your best defence against both  harmful UVA and UVB rays, along with other simple precautions such as wearing a hat and sunglasses, wearing protective clothing and staying in the shade. 1,6,9,11,12,13

Keep in mind to look for a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or more to get the best protection! SPF 15 filters out approximately 93 percent of all incoming UVB rays. SPF 30 keeps out 97 percent and SPF 50 keeps out 98 percent. 10,13