Understanding Sunburns: SPF, UVA, UVB

Sunburns are a consequence of prolonged sun exposure and can cause a lot of discomfort. In order to avoid sunburns, it is essential to use sun protector creams or lotions. Knowing a few basics about these products can help you make an informed decision when purchasing sun screen products.

UVA, or Ultraviolet A

The UVA is the ultraviolet A ray present in the sun, and it has a length between 320 and 400 nanometers. The UVA rays enter deep into the skin and are considered the main causing factor of wrinkled skin. UVA will typically not cause sunburn.

The UVA rays enhance the effects of the UVB rays and will contribute to the formation of cancer in people who are more susceptible to developing skin cancer. The UVA waves are believed to be responsible for the formation of melanomas.

UVB, or Ultraviolet B

The ultraviolet B rays are shorter waves and are stronger than the UVA rays. These waves don’t penetrate the skin, but will affect the surface of the skin and cause severe burns.

The UVB waves are responsible for the formation of basal carcinomas or squamous cell carcinomas. Melanomas may also be caused by UVB rays.

SPF, or Sun Protection Factor

The initials SPF stand for sun protection factor, and each sunscreen product must have this mentioned. The sun protection factor may be up to 60, but certain products that have this protection factor have been retracted from the market, as there is need for additional research to prove they are efficient.

The sun protection factor should be at least 15 for any type of skin or complexion. However, people with red or blonde hair will require an enhanced protection factor, which can be between 30 and 60. The SPF designates the length of time the product offers protection for. The SPF should be higher if you have lighter skin, as lighter skin reddens faster.

For instance, if your skin gets red within 20 minutes, a SPF of 15 will offer you protection for around 6 hours. Getting a higher SPF can double the amount of time your skin is protected. However, SPF products of 30 or higher will absorb around 98% of the UVB rays, while products with a lower SPF absorb only 93% of the damaging UVB waves.

Even if the sun is not as powerful in the morning or after 4 PM, the sunscreen or sunblock should be worn also during these periods. The sun protection products will protect your skin from cancer and wrinkling.

Sunblocks or Sunscreens

Sunscreens are products that absorb the UVA and UVB rays not allowing these to penetrate the skin. Sunblocks are products that deflect the sun rays. These products contain various chemicals that protect the skin. The product you purchase should contain protection for both UVA and UVB rays.

The sunscreen should be applied generously all over the body, even on areas that are covered by clothes, as the clothes may allow the sun rays to reach the skin.

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