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UV Facts: UVA vs UVB

by Lori Valesko

We all know the sun can damage our skin causing premature aging and even cancer but most of us donít know how or why.

It can be hard to know what to look for when you need to protect your skin as itís easy to get confused about which UV ray does what

Itís easier to know how to protect yourself if you know what youíre protecting yourself from.

The sun has 2 types of UV, (ultraviolet), rays:
1. UVA
2. UVB

Long-wave solar rays of 320-400 nanometers, (billionths of a meter). Youíre almost never safe from exposure to UVA rays as they can go through windows, light clothing and even your windshield, so if youíre outside youíre getting exposed to UVA rays.

UVA rays are responsible for aging. They are less likely than UVB to cause sunburn but UVA penetrates the skin more deeply, causing wrinkling and leathering of the skin.

Prolonged exposure of UVA cracks and shrinks the collagen and elastin of our skin.

Collagen makes up 75% of our skin and is the fibrous protein of skin, cartilage, bone, and other connective tissue. Along with elastin, it is responsible for skin strength and elasticity, and its degradation leads to wrinkles that accompany aging.

Elastin, is a protein in connective tissue that is elastic and allows the skin to resume itís shape after stretching or contracting.

When UVA rays damage these components of our skin it looses strength and elasticity thus causing wrinkles, sagging, leathery skin andÖ aging!

If thatís not bad enough studies show that UVA not only exacerbates UVB's carcinogenic effects but may also directly induce some skin cancers, including melanomas.

Short-wave solar rays of 290-320 nanometers.

UVB rays are more potent than UVA in producing sunburn. Therefore these rays are considered the main cause of skin cancers, (basal and squamous cell carcinomas and melanoma).

Sometimes called the "tanning ray", UVB rays stimulate the melanocyte cell, (located in the bottom layer of the skin), to produce the brown pigment melanin, producing a suntan as a defense against UV radiation.

So even if it's a cloudy day and you're driving in your car you're getting exposed to the harmful UV rays of the sun. That's why it's so important to prtoect your skin with sunscreen and UV protective clothing at all times, (especially if you're working, playing or vacationing outside).

About the Author: A surfer for the last 30 years, Ms. Valesko owns and operates
where you can find a great selection of beach apparel and accessories including UV protective clothing.

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