What is the Difference Between UVA and UVB Rays?

Read the entire article if you want to find out the difference between UVA and UVB rays and the best ways to protect the skin from them.

UVA rays, called the ageing rays, is ultraviolet light radiating from our brightest star, with a wavelength that goes from 320nm to 400nm.

For a long time it was thought that ultraviolet light rays were harmless for the skin, because researchers believed that they didn't reach the skin's first layers.

Experts now know that is in fact the opposite, and that these rays, which have a longer wavelength, penetrate deep into the epidermis, up to the dermis, damaging collagen and cells.

UVA Rays; Danger of Ultraviolet Light

There are more UVA rays in sunlight than UVB rays and they are the main responsible for:

What is Ultraviolet Light?What is the difference between uva and uvb sun rays?
  • Premature skin aging
  • Skin pigmentation
  • Skin tanning
  • Are even related to some forms of skin cancer

The damage produced by UV sun rays accumulate with each exposure. UVA rays pass through windows, can reflect off water, sand and snow increasing the chances for your skin to absorb more sunlight.

They also produce the same damage in summer or in winter, even in cloudy days without you being aware of it.

Because these rays are strongest between 10am and 4pm and are very damaging for our skin, it will be a good idea to check the Ultraviolet Index (UVI) before going out.

UVI is a number that goes from 1 to 11, and indicates the amount of UVA rays reaching the Earth's surface, at any point in time.

You can find this in the weather section of any local newspaper. The higher the UVI number, the more intense the exposure is.

UVA Tanning Beds

The use of UVA tanning beds or any other kind should be avoided.

Ultraviolet Rays LightUVA tanning beds effects on skin.

They can cause even more damage than the sun's rays, because tanning beds are mainly made of ultraviolet light.

And you know what that means: premature aging skin that will make you look like your granny before your time, and possibly even skin cancer.

Self-tanning is your best bet. There are many choices available in the market today.

Remember to always wear a broad spectrum product such as Skinceuticals Ultimate UV Defense Nourishing Broad-spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30.

Apply UVA sunscreens generously 20 minutes before going out and reapply often if out in the sun, and after swimming. 

And don't forget to protect your eye-sight through the year, especially in the hotter months with good quality sunglasses.

What Are UVB Rays?

UVB rays is ultraviolet light coming from the sun, and have a wavelength variation from 290nm to 320nm. These rays are shorter but stronger than UVA rays. 

They affect the skin's outer layer, causing dehydration to the epidermis. Part of these ultraviolet rays can penetrate deeper into the skin, changing the structure of the cells, and are also linked to skin cancer and cataracts.

UVB light is the main responsible for causing sunburn. Sunburn is the skin's natural defense against overexposure to UVB rays. These rays are stronger:

  • In the summer than in winter
  • When the Earth rotates closer to the sun
  • At higher altitude
  • At midday
  • In places closer to the equator

Effects of UVB Rays on the Skin & Protection

When these rays reach the skin, they begin damaging the skin cells in the epidermis. In response, the immune system increases blood flow to the affected areas, making the skin feel warm and looking red. 

Effects of UVB on the skin

White blood cells, which help protect from infection and disease, attack and remove the damaged cells. This process can cause the skin to itch and peel.

It can take up to eight hours for the full effects of sunburn to be notice, so you won't realize that you have been sunburned right away.

A mild sunburn can be treated with cool baths, over the counter hydrocortisone creams and aspirin, to ease pain and swelling, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).

A severe sunburn, usually characterized by a large area of red, blistered skin with headache, fever and chills should be treated as a medical emergency, and examined by a doctor right away.

You should protect your skin all the time, when out in the sun by wearing broad spectrum sunscreen that blocks both types of rays with an SPF 15 or more.

Wear sunglasses that absorb at least 95% of ultraviolet rays, to protect your eye-sight from harmful sunlight.

Wear a wide hat and protective clothes. 

Home Remedies for Sun Damaged Skin

Mask for prematurely aged skin

Exfoliate your skin before using this mask, to eliminate debris from the skin. The ingredients will penetrate your skin better.

You will need:

  • One teaspoon of honey

  • One egg yolk

  • Few drops of extra virgin olive oil

Mix all the ingredients by hand. If the mixture is too runny just add a little bit of flour or oats. Apply on the area you want to treat and remove after 15 minutes with a damp cloth. Use your daily moisturizer. The more you use this mask the better the results will be.

Natural Cures for Sunburn

If after all you still manage to burn the skin have a look at these remedies to relief the sunburned area.

1. Mix the cucumber and natural yogurt, and apply it to the sunburned area. Leave it for as long as you need. This should give you a cooling and refreshing sensation.

2. Sun damaged skin mask - With plenty of antioxidants, green tea helps to repair the damage caused by the sun in our skin. After a long day in the sun, make a green tea using two bags and some mineral water.

Leave them for 5 minutes. Take off the tea bags, and add some wheat flour until the mix is consistent. Apply it over the face, neck and cleavage. Leave it on for 15 minutes and rinse off with water.

La Roche-Posay is a sunscreen recommended by dermatologists. If you want to protect your skin the right way click the link below to learn more.

Discover other ways to boost your health & skin:

How a daily dose of sunlight improves health

Why do we need to use sunscreen?

Natural remedies to relief sunburned skin

Boost your collagen & reverse damaged skin

› UVA Rays