Here’s What You Need to Know about the UV Rays

Recent reports show that while strengthening your bones, excessive sun exposure can hurt your skin in a serious way. A study, done across 21 countries on the harmful effects of the sun’s rays, shows that despite their awareness of sun damages, most women do not change their behaviour when it came to sun exposure. The results reveal that 7 out of 10 women improperly protect their skin under the sun. So, what does this lead to? Brown spots, wrinkles, premature aging, photo-damage, hyper-pigmentation, and in severe cases skin cancer.

Know the rays and its damaging effects

Today we all know that UV rays are harmful to all skin types. But did you know that the rays themselves have types that hurt the skin in various degrees?

  • There three types of UV rays – UVA, UVB, and UVC.
  • UVA rays comprise of 95 percent of the radiation that reaches the earth. Maximum range of UVA rays reach the earth and are cause of most skin allergies. Their levels remain constant throughout the year and these can penetrate glass windows. These are the rays that batter our skin the most.
  • UVB rays are present in summer in greater degree. UVBs make for only 5 percent of the rays and are prominent during the hotter months. UVB rays cause sunburns, and tans.
  • Most dangerous type is the UVC, but they get blocked by our earth’s ozone layer. That is why when you hear the words ozone depletion you should really look for cover.
  • Due to the constant changes in the ozone layer the number of cases photo-damaged skin is constantly rising. The damage is principally due to the combined action of UVA and UVB rays.
  • The excess of UVB is responsible for tanning and sunburn; and UVA penetrates deeply and cause sun related allergies and irreversible changes in DNA.
  • UVA rays are responsible for premature skin ageing.
  • Contrary to UVBs that are principally responsible for tanning / sunburn, UVAs do not trigger a visible warning signal. They penetrate more deeply within the skin and thus damage cells in the dermis.

Protect yourself

Just because you have dark skin does not mean you are safe from the UV rays. Our darker skin tone with higher levels of natural sun guard melanin is not a guarantee against photo damage caused by the sun. Research now shows that Indian women, even the ones with darkest of skin can fall prey to sun’s harmful rays. In fact, Indian skin is very prone to tanning, which forms the basis of skin cancer. We may not register high number of melanoma (a form of skin cancer), but we are prone to the cancer of the top layer of the skin.

Dark skin or fair, using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with minimum SPF 25 year-round for all skin types is a must. The SPF strength that you decide to pick up will depend on the number of hours you spend daily out in the sun. Most Indian skin types in the heat of the summer can pick up sunscreen with SPF 25 to 30 if you plan to spend more than two hours out in the sun. If you are planning to be under the sun look for a sunscreen with SPF 45. Also when at the pool or at the beach pick up a water-resistant variant and reapply after being in the water or sweating. Whether you are at home or going out, always wear your sunscreen over your regular moisturiser to stay safe and glowing.

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