After chatting to a friend about the effects of UVA and UVB rays on the skin, I decided to write a simple explanatory blog on the subject. As a sun shy person I've always been an advocate of high protection sun care, big densely woven floppy hats, good quality sunglass (protecting the eyes from UV rays) and shade! I realise most 'normal' individuals love returning home from a relaxing summer holiday with a healthy tan; for me it's quite the opposite and always has been. I embrace the 'pale and interesting' look - yep each to their own ;).
As we all know UVB stimulates the melanin present in our skin - thus creating a tan but it can also cause sunburn if we're not careful; increasing the likelihood of developing skin cancers. It also thickens the epidermis with prolonged exposure.
UVB rays penetrate the very top layers of the skin, whereas UVA rays unfortunately reach the lower levels of the dermis where the collagen fibres and blood vessels are situated. Constant UVA exposure weakens the connective fibres resulting in a loss of elasticity and an increase in the likelihood of wrinkles
A sunscreen containing both UVB (B for burning) and UVA (A for ageing) protection is known as broad spectrum and is a necessity all year round to protect our skin from premature ageing. UVA is present all year; whether it be cloudy or raining so don't be fooled! You'll often see PA on sun protection, this equates to Protection Grade of UVA. PA+++ indicates very good protection against UVA damage - so it's always a good thing to look out for.
Of course there are benefits of the sun.........Vitamin D to promote strong bones and it's mood boosting abilities (give me that serotonin!). According to the World Health Organisation 5-15 mins of sun exposure (without sunscreen) twice a week allows the body to benefit from the suns Vitamin D. Hope this has been helpful.