Know the Difference between UVA and UVB Rays

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The sun’s rays are responsible for aging skin, sun spots, freckles, even cancer. But did you know that UVA and UVB each cause different issues if you don’t protect yourself from both of them? That’s why it’s vital to use a broad spectrum which protects against both UVA and UVB. Here’s a breakdown of what UVA and UVB rays are responsible for.


UVB Rays


If you’ve ever had a sunburn, you’ve been blasted by UVB rays. Unlike UVA rays, these rays are stronger in the summer months, especially mid-day, which is why we see so many sunburns in the summer versus other months. But note that UVB rays do reflect off of snow and water, so it’s important to protect yourself year-round.  UVB rays are also most commonly to blame for causing many types of skin cancers. The best advice is to stay out of the sun during the hottest times of the day, typically 11:00 to 3:00.


UVA Rays


UVA rays are constantly present, no matter the season or the weather. They penetrate clouds, clothing, even the glass windows of your house and car if they don’t have a UV protection coating on them. That’s why it’s important to be diligent with sunscreen even when it’s not a hot, sunny summer day.  UVA rays penetrate deeper into your skin’s layers than UVB rays, so they are more responsible for the early signs of aging. Indoor tanning booths use UVA rays and while you may feel healthy with a summer glow, those UVA rays are causing your skin irreversible aging signs. We recommend avoiding indoor tanning booths.


What to look for in a Sunscreen


Look for a sunscreen that specifically says UVA/UVB or “broad spectrum coverage” on the bottle. Soon you’ll see many labels using + signs to show how well they protect against UVA rays and a number rating for the UVB rays.  Per the Skin Cancer Foundation, use a minimum of SPF 15 and reapply every two hours or less. Use a full ounce on your body and about 1 teaspoon on your face each time you apply. Know that even if the labels says “all day protection”, it does not, and you are not protected all day. Reapplying is vital.


Product Pick


Zenmed: SPF 40 Mineral Sunscreen is a great option for a daily facial sunscreen. Read my review of it here.


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