SunSense Blog : What is the difference between UVA and UVB rays? SunSense Blog : What is the difference between UVA and UVB rays? SunSense Blog : What is the difference between UVA and UVB rays? SunSense Blog : What is the difference between UVA and UVB rays?

What is the difference between UVA and UVB rays?

 

It’s a common misconception that sun damage only occurs in hot climates, as many people associate damage with the visible signs of sun exposure, i.e sunburn.

 



However, you may be surprised to learn that the sun’s UVA and UVB rays actually have different, yet equally harmful, affects on the skin. They also have the potential to cause damage in the winter, as well as in the summer.

 



With so many myths surrounding sun damage, we’ve pulled together this handy guide to help you better understand the sun’s harmful UV rays… 

 

What are UVA rays?

UVA rays are known as the ‘ageing rays’ and are present during all daylight hours, regardless of the temperature. These rays can also penetrate glass and clouds; so don’t be fooled by cooler temperatures.

 



Cumulative exposure to UVA is known to assist in the development of skin cancer, as UVA rays penetrate the skin much more deeply than UVB. What’s more, UVA is a major factor in skin ageing and is also the dominant tanning ray, which is why it is used in tanning salons.

 



It’s been argued that exposure to UVA rays on sunbeds is actually worse than natural sunlight, and research has shown that first exposure to sunbeds in your youth actually increases your melanoma risk by 75%

 

What are UVB rays?

UVB is the burning ray. These rays do not penetrate as deep as UVA rays, however they can cause severe damage to the skin’s epidermal layers. These rays do not significantly penetrate glass and their strength can vary depending on the time of day. However, they can reflect off surfaces such as snow and ice, which means they can still cause damage in the winter. What’s more, UVB rays also play a significant role in the development of skin cancer.

 

What about UVC rays?

Whilst UVC is the most dangerous form of UV rays, they are actually filtered completely out by the ozone layer so these rays never reach the Earth’s surface.  UVC rays are also generated by electric welding equipment, so it is essential to be very well covered up and protected if you use such equipment.