Know the Difference between UVA and UVB Rays and Their Impact on Skin!

the sun shining

The sun’s UV rays are the sworn enemy of poorly protected skin. Various skin problems ranging from dullness, burning, to the risk of skin cancer can occur due to UV rays. However, did you know that there are 2 types of UV rays? Each type has different characteristics and impacts on our skin! Therefore, the way of protection is also different. Let’s learn the difference between UVA and UVB rays so that we can protect ourselves in the right way!

The Dangers of UV Rays to Health

Before we start learning the difference between UVA and UVB rays, it’s good to understand how serious and dangerous UV rays are! This awareness can help us be more regular and consistent in maintaining our skin health. Apart from premature aging, cancer, and skin damage, UV rays are also responsible for health problems such as:

  • Cataracts: UV exposure, especially over long periods of time, increases the risk of developing cataracts. Cataract is a condition where the lens of the eye becomes cloudy, obscuring one’s vision.
  • Retinal Damage: It can also damage the retina, the layer inside the eye that is responsible for vision. The effect will be vision problems and impairment.
  • Skin Immunosuppression: This makes the skin more susceptible to infection, inflammation, and other skin health problems. A weakened skin immune system can worsen skin conditions such as dermatitis, eczema, or skin infections.
  • Systemic Effects: Long-term exposure to UV rays can also have an impact on the immune system as a whole. We could be more susceptible to diseases!

Therefore, not only the skin, UV rays can produce a negative impact on the health of the body. Can you see how important it is for us to be aware of this issue? Let’s learn the difference and the steps we need to take to protect ourselves!

What is the Difference between UVA & UVB Rays

There are specific differences between these two UV rays. First, we can look at the wavelength. The longer the wavelength of UV light, the higher the penetration rate. UVA rays have a wavelength of about 320-400 nanometers, while UVB rays have a wavelength of about 280-320 nanometers. What does this mean?

This relates to the penetration rate of UV rays. UVA rays are able to penetrate deeper into the skin layers, including the dermis, while UVB tends to attack the upper layers of the skin, namely the epidermis. Not just skin, UVA rays can still penetrate glass and even clothes!

Next, the difference in intensity. UVB has a higher intensity than UVA, usually more pronounced during midday (varies depending on the time of day). While UVA has a lower intensity but is constant and stable.

So, that’s more or less the basic difference between the two types of UV rays. The impact on the skin is obviously different too!

The Impact of UVA and UVB Rays on

The “A” in UVA stands for Aging. This means that UVA rays have more impact on premature aging cases for the skin. Whereas, the “B” in UVB refers to Burn which means to burn. That is the first difference between the two in their impact on our skin.

UVA has the potential to cause problems such as:

  • Skin Aging: UVA rays can damage elastin and collagen fibers in the skin, leading to premature aging. This can result in wrinkles, decreased skin elasticity and dullness.
  • Causes of Sunspots: Repeated exposure to UVA rays can cause sunspots or hyperpigmentation that appear as dark spots on the skin.

Instead, UVB has the potential to cause problems such as:

  • Sunburn & Skin Damage: Overexposure to UVB rays can cause sunburn. This happens because UVB stimulates the skin to produce melanin as a protective response, resulting in redness and burning.

In addition, these two UV rays also contribute to the risk of skin cancer. Very scary isn’t it? Then what are the ways we can do to keep our skin protected?

Choose the Right Sunscreen

Of course, the main thing we can do is use sunscreen! That being said, don’t forget to also use protective gear such as sunglasses, hats, or long-sleeved clothes and take shelter especially when the sun is at its hottest (between 10 am – 4 pm).

But what sunscreen should we choose? It depends on your skin type and how long and intense your sun exposure is. For those of you with light and pale color tones, we recommend choosing a sunscreen with SPF 30 – 50+ (high protection), whereas if our skin tends to be darker then even a lower SPF is still safe. 

In addition to SPF, the sunscreen you choose should be labeled PA+ (referring to UVA protection). The higher the protection, the more “+” signs there will be (for example: PA+, PA++, PA+++, and so on).

Other tips for choosing based on environmental conditions include:

  • SPF 15 / PA+ for indoor activities
  • SPF 15-30 / PA++ for outdoor activities
  • SPF 30-50+ / PA +++ for frequent and prolonged exposure to the sun

We just need to adjust it to our skin needs, isn’t it easy? If there are certain skin conditions and problems, Sereni-Trees should consult a professional first so you don’t make the wrong choice!

Which is more dangerous, UVA or UVB rays?

While both have a significant impact on the skin, it turns out that UVA rays are far more harmful than UVB rays! With their ability to penetrate clouds, glass, and even deep layers of skin, imagine what could happen if we continue to be exposed without protection?

UVB damage may be visible immediately, but generally only on the upper skin layers such as burns. This is why people are more aware of the dangers of UVB. But the impact of UVA is more long-term/not immediately visible. Cases can start from skin discoloration, continue to photo aging (all kinds of wrinkles such as fine wrinkles and sagging), and finally, skin cancer. 

In conclusion, we should still give our skin maximum protection against both UV rays every day. No matter where we are, inside or outside, sunny or cloudy, UV rays can still cause damage to our skin! Instead of regretting it later, let’s start being more aware of the dangers of UV rays. Don’t forget to maximize your skin protection with Serenitree’s bodycare range!

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