The sunlight (or ultraviolet radiation) that reaches our skin is made up of three wavelengths UVA, UVB and UVC. UV radiation is one of the main factors responsible for skin cancers and whilst UVC is not a concern as it doesn’t reach our skin, overexposure to long wave ultraviolet A (UVA) and medium wave ultraviolet B (UVB) can be extremely damaging. There are key differences between the two:
UVA rays do not burn us but penetrate the deeper layers of the skin and cause the acceleration of skin ageing and wrinkling. UVA is present all year round and even if the sun is not shining it can reach your skin.
UVB rays cause sunburn, accelerate skin ageing and play a key role in the development of skin cancer. UVB is also present all year round, making daily sun protection a necessary part of your skincare regime.
It’s important to note that an effective sunscreen will protect you against both UVA and UVB rays. You can read more about how to identify an effective sunscreen in our ‘What are broad-spectrum sunscreens’ section.