Difference Between UVA, UVB, and UVC Rays and How They Affect Your Skin

The sun emits three different types of wavelengths down to earth; UVA, UVB and UVC rays. UV radiation is a spectrum of light that penetrates the earth’s atmosphere and plays a huge part in premature skin aging, eye damage, and skin cancers. The radiate produces genetic mutations as a result of the skin’s cellular damage and is considered a human carcinogen. It’s the main cause of the following most common skin cancers that affect more than 250,000 Americans every year: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and the most deadly, melanoma.

Knowing the difference between the waves is useful to understand the damage you may be inflicting upon yourself by bathing in the sun. UVA is a shortwave that penetrates the skin deeper than UVB waves, and while UVB is a longer wave affects the upper layers of the skin, which makes it the main cause of skin reddening and sunburn. The most potent amount of UVB affects Americans between 10am and 4pm between April and October, however the rays can do damage throughout the year and through cloudy weather. Snow or ice can bounce up to 80 percent of their rays onto you as well, which means you’re going to get hit almost twice as hard by harm.

The UVA rays damage the dermis, which is the skin’s thickest layer and once that is damaged, can lead to premature aging with wrinkles, age spots, increased risk of skin cancer and a suppressed immune system.

UVC rays actually have the shortest wavelength and are the most dangerous of all rays, however they don’t reach the earth’s surface and are completely absorbed by the ozone layer.

When any UV rays react with melanin, the skin begins to tan and overexposure leads to sunburn. Melanin is the body’s active defense against the sun and once that is disrupted, harm has been done. The key is to not burn, protect yourself with broad spectrum sunscreen, at least SPF 30 protection and take care of your skin and overall health.

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