Understanding the UV Index – Protect Your Skin from Head to Toe

Understanding UV radiation and the sun
Last Updated February 19, 2023

Stay Safe in the Sun: Understanding UV Radiation

Did you know that the sun's rays are more than just heat and light? The sun also emits UV radiation, which can harm your skin even though you can't see or feel it.

It's a common myth that sun damage only happens in hot climates or when you get a sunburn. The truth is, the sun's UVA and UVB rays can damage your skin all year round, no matter the temperature or if it's cloudy outside. In fact, up to 90% of UV radiation can still reach your skin even on cloudy days!

Sun protection

What is UV Radiation?

UV radiation is a type of energy from the sun that can be harmful to our skin. It's like invisible sunshine that we can't see or feel, but it can still damage our skin and cause sunburn, wrinkles, and even skin cancer. There are three types of UV radiation: UVA, UVB, and UVC.

Exposure to UV radiation from the sun can cause skin damage and increase the risk of skin cancer, so it is important to protect yourself by using sunscreens, wearing protective clothing, and seeking shade during the sun's peak hours.

What exactly are UVA, UVB and UVC rays?

UVA Rays

UVA rays are known as the "aging rays," as they cause skin aging, dryness, wrinkles, roughness, and sagging. They can penetrate deep into the skin's layers and are present during all daylight hours, even through window glass. 

Long-term exposure to UVA can also increase your risk of skin cancer, including melanoma.

UVB Rays

On the other hand, UVB rays are the "burning rays." They penetrate the outer layer of skin and cause sunburn and skin damage, as well as increase the risk of skin cancer.

UVB strength can vary throughout the day and doesn't penetrate glass as much as UVA, but it can still reflect off surfaces like snow and ice.

UVC Rays

UVC radiation is the highest energy form of UV radiation. Fortunately, most of it is absorbed by the ozone layer and does not reach the earth's surface.

How to protect yourself from UV Rays?

The best way to protect your skin from both UVA and UVB rays is to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) rating.

The SPF tells you how much UVA and UVB radiation the sunscreen blocks.

Additionally, make sure to reapply the sunscreen every two hours or after swimming or sweating, to ensure continuous protection.

Solbari Sun Protection Skincare SPF50 Moisturising Sunscreen

What is SPF? 

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and is a measure of a sunscreen's effectiveness in protecting the skin from UVB rays. Sunscreens with a higher SPF rating provide greater protection against UVB rays.

A SPF 30 sunscreen will filter out approximately 97% of UVB rays, while an SPF 50 sunscreen will filter out approximately 98% of UVB rays. 

It's important to note that no sunscreen can provide 100% protection. Reapplying frequently and avoiding prolonged sun exposure is still crucial to reducing the risk of skin damage and skin cancer.

Woman applying sunscreen

What about SPF ratings in clothing? 

In clothing, SPF refers to the Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF), which is a measure of a fabric's effectiveness in blocking out harmful UV radiation.

Like SPF in sunscreen, UPF provides a numerical rating of the protection level that a garment can offer. A UPF rating of 50 means that the fabric will allow only 1/50th of the sun's UV radiation to reach the skin, thereby providing excellent protection.

Clothing with a UPF rating of at least 30 is considered to provide good sun protection, while a UPF of 50 or higher provides excellent protection.

SPF Clothing Properties  

Sun protective clothing is made from tightly woven fabrics that are less transparent to UV radiation, and can also be treated with UV-absorbing chemicals to further enhance their protective properties. Quality clothing is also soft and lightweight to regulate body temperature, and free of any harmful chemicals or artificial fertilisers.

Wearing sun protective clothing is a great way to supplement the use of sunscreen, and provides an extra layer of protection against harmful UV radiation.

Sports Gloves - Sun Protection SPF

UPF 50+ Clothing 

For maximum protection against UV radiation, it's important to use a combination of sunscreen and sun protective clothing. There are clothing companies that offer UPF50+ sun protection clothing that covers a wide range of outdoor activities.

Solbari Sun Protection Clothing 

One of my personal favorites is Solbari. My dermatologist referred me to them after a skin cancer check up, and I've been a fan ever since.

Solbari's products are designed with both complete coverage and ultimate comfort in mind. I was initially a bit hesitant about wearing gloves, but I've always been self-conscious about my sun-spot blotched hands. So, I decided to give Solbari gloves a try and I couldn't be happier. These gloves are so soft and make me feel confident and stylish every time I wear them, especially while driving.

Solbari Mens SPF clothing
Womens Sun Protection Clothing

To Sum Up

So there you have it! A little insight into the not-so-friendly side of the sun and how to protect yourself from harmful UV rays. By incorporating sun protective practices and clothing such as those in the Solbari range into your daily routine, you can significantly reduce your risk of skin damage and skin cancer caused by UV radiation.

About the Author

Sharon McKenzie

Sharon McKenzie is a 57-year-old woman who exudes the radiance of someone much younger. Despite dealing with chronic illness for nearly 20 years and facing additional skin issues in recent years, Sharon has managed to maintain a youthful glow. Her Celtic heritage may have presented challenges in the past, but she has found ways to take care of her skin and it shows.

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