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The Damaging Rays: UVA, UVB and UVC

Author - Ignae

UV rays can be both beneficial and harmful to human health. But when it comes to our skin, it is important that we know how to protect ourselves from them.

Nowadays, it is recognized that sun exposure is responsible for about 70% of the signs of skin aging [1]. A wide spectrum of radiation reaches us coming from the sun, ranging from infrared rays, causing heat, to ultraviolet radiation (UV’s). UV’s are especially intense, and it has several effects on the human body. 

B for burning

UVB radiation is responsible for the vitamin D production, but also the most harmful to skin health. These rays cause significant damage to skin cells, therefore causing sunburn and contributing to skin aging [2]. UVB is also at the root of most  skin cancers. Therefore, it is very important to use sunscreen with high to very high sun protection factor (SPF) whenever there is direct sun exposure. Studies evaluating sunscreen use by consumers this product does not significantly interfere with vitamin D production [3].

A for aging

UVA’s are the main cause for premature skin aging, as they are able to penetrate skin epidermis. Furthermore, these rays can partially penetrate glass and clouds, therefore reaching our skin indoors in countries closer to the equator. When skin is exposed to UVA’s, these rays  are absorbed by cellular molecules, thus generating free radicals that damage lipids, such as cell membranes, proteins, like collagen and elastin, and even cellular DNA. The damage causes the skin to lose its ability to maintain moisture, firmness, elasticity, and balance melanin production [4]. Therefore, wrinkles and blemishes form, sagging develops, and the skin dehydrates more easily. To protect the skin from UVA’s, it is important to use broad spectrum sunscreens whose UVA protection is at least one third of the UVB protection (with the acronym UVA surrounded by a circle), or with a PA rating of at least "+++". Serums and moisturizers with ectoin and carcinin can also boost the UVA protection of your skincare routine.

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