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What's the Difference Between UVA and UVB Sunscreens?

Although UVA and UVB rays both damage the skin, they do so in two different ways. For full protection, you need a broad-spectrum sunscreen. Learn why, and what to look for in sunscreen products.

Although UVA and UVB rays both damage the skin, they do so in two different ways. For full protection, you need a broad-spectrum sunscreen. Once you understand the differences between the two main types of solar rays, you'll be able to make wise choices when it comes to sun protection.


What's the Difference Between UVA and UVB Sunscreens?


How do UVA rays work?


UVA rays (think 'A' for 'ageing') penetrate the epidermis down to the dermal layer and cause damage there. These rays are the ones primarily responsible for hyperpigmentation and wrinkles.

UVA can also suppress the immune system. Immune system suppression, while not as visible as premature wrinkling and sagging, is much scarier. When your immune system doesn't function well, your body has trouble fighting off infections, which leaves you open to some pretty unpleasant conditions.


How do UVB rays work?


UVB rays (think 'B' for 'burning') work on the epidermis, causing the most obvious and immediate effect of sun damage: sunburn. UVB rays generally don’t pass through to the dermis like UVA rays do. However, UVB light is more worrisome, as it plays a major role in the development of skin cancer.


What's the Difference Between UVA and UVB Sunscreens?


Getting the Most From Your Sunscreen With Broad-Spectrum Protection


If you weren't keen on covering yourself in sunscreen before, you should be now! When you get into the nitty-gritty details of sun damage, it really is terrifying. So how do you protect yourself from both types of rays? Broad-spectrum protection.

The only sunscreens that provide natural broad-spectrum protection are physical sunscreens: titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Invisible Zinc 4 Hour Waterproof Sunscreen SPF 30+ is a great natural product for combatting both types of solar rays.

Chemical sunscreens that provide broad-spectrum protection contain multiple ingredients. However, chemical sunscreens are just as effective as physical formulas and actually can be more effective against UVA rays.

As you learned, UVA rays reach the dermis. Chemical sunscreens are able to penetrate the dermis and absorb those UVA rays before they can do damage. So chemical sunscreens are great for clients concerned with visible signs of ageing. A great double whammy of anti-ageing protection and chemical sunscreen is Dermalogica Age Smart Dynamic Skin Recovery SPF 50+.

Chemical sunscreens are also ideal for those with medical issues, because these formulas may be able to prevent UVA's suppression of the immune system. However, before using any product, if you have a serious medical issue, contact your doctor for advice.

Now that you know the difference between UVA and UVB rays, you’re all set to pick up the best broad-spectrum protection you can buy. Skin is your largest organ. You’ve got to protect it, and now you know exactly what from.

Knowledge is power, and you can use that power to keep yourself not only healthy but also gorgeous and wrinkle-free into your golden years. It's a win-win-situation!

 

What's the Difference Between UVA and UVB Sunscreens?