Which Rays Are More Damaging UVA or UVB?

October 19, 2017

Everybody hears about the damage UVB does to the skin and the rising incidence of skin cancers. But UVA is not as nearly talked about and it can have some pretty damaging consequences too! So what is the difference between UVA ands UVB?

What is UVA?

Ultraviolet A is considered to be a long wave and we are exposed to large amounts of this radiation throughout our life time. In fact, UVA rays account for 95% of all the UV radiation we get from the sun (Skincancer.org). This is because they are 30 – 50% more prevalent than the UVB rays and are present all year round during the day even penetrating clouds on a cloudy day and windows.

Where UVA can be damaging to us is that it deeply penetrates the skin (down past the dermis) and has been known for a while now that it pays a huge part in the wrinkling and aging of the skin. It has even been suggested that UVA rays can play a part in skin cancer too but these studies are still ongoing.

Something to know too is that UVA is the actual tanning ray and creates the brown tanning colour on our skin. This is the also ray type which is also used predominantly in sun beds or tanning beds. But something to be aware of is that these tanning beds deliver 12 times more UVA rays than the sun and they have been implicated in certain types of skin cancer.

 What about UVB?

Ultraviolet B is a short-wave radiation and this radiation is the main cause of sunburn where is damages more the top layers of the skin (epidermis). This is the ray we associate with skin cancer as it does damage directly to the DNA and burns the superficial ( or top) layers of your skin. Where UVB plays a part in tanning is that it builds up the Melanin in your skin which is needed by the UVA rays to turn your skin brown.

UVB is not as prevalent year-round as UVA as it varies by time of day and year and it also does not penetrate glass. It is more intense during the summer months and between the tomes of 10am and 4pm which is the times experts suggest you cover up with sun protection and/or seek shade. 

This is why it is important to practice sun safe measures year-round as even during winter and cloudy days, you can still get a decent does of UVA rays. Broad spectrum sunscreens are now available which can block out both UVA and UVB rays, plus sun protection clothing with a high UPF rating can limit how much radiation comes through to your skin. A 50+ UPF rating can block out up to 98% of all radiation and keep you sun safe.

Sun protection doesn't need to look unfashionable these days and there are now beautifully designed sun protection clothing around to keep you both safe and looking stylish. Check out our chic and stylish Cat&I rash guard range!

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