Your Skin and UV Rays – Jill Sung

14 May

We’re always talking about how to protect yourself from UV damage, but never about the UV itself or why. So a brief overview! (We’ll delve deeper in days to come…so please stay tuned.)

UV Primer: What is it?

Any time the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays (invisible radiation) are able to reach the earth, there is a risk for excessive sun exposure, meaning radiation that can penetrate and change the structure of your skin cells. Exposure to UV rays appears to be THE most important environmental factor in the development of skin cancer and has also been associated with various forms of eye damage, such as cataracts .  UVA and UVB have been shown to increase your risk of developing skin cancer.

There are three types of UV rays: ultraviolet A (UVA), ultraviolet B (UVB), and ultraviolet C (UVC).

  • UVA: most abundant source of solar radiation at the earth’s surface, and penetrates beyond the top layer of your skin to cause damage to connective tissue
  • UVB:less abundant at the earth’s surface than UVA because a significant portion of UVB is absorbed by the ozone layer,  does not penetrate as deep into the skin as UVA does, but is still damaging
  • UVC: extremely hazardous to skin, but it is completely absorbed by the stratospheric ozone layer so does not reach earth’s surface
Know Thyself : Skin Type

UV radiation’s effect on each person depends on a few factors:

  • skin type
  • time of year
  • amount of sun exposure you’ve recently received

Your skin tone and susceptibility to burning can be checked on the classification chart to the left.  (Incidentally, this chart is also used to determine how you’ll respond to facial treatments.) But why is this important?

Why Should I Know Myself?

When UV rays start penetrating your skin,  the skin’s melanocytes kick into high gear and start producing melanin (dark pigment that gives skin its color – tan or skin tone), which results in a tan. People with fair skin, however, tend to burn, because they have fewer melanocytes and produce less melanin.

Knowing your skin tone is probably most important to help you prevent SKIN CANCER.  Skin tone types I-III (in red) have a greater risk of developing skin cancer than  types IV-VI. That means you need to do more to protect yourself. But those with darker skin tones don’t get away with it that easily either, you might be able to wear a lower SPF sunscreen, but no one is immune to ultraviolet rays and the damage they cause. (according to American Cancer Society)

Ok, so that’s it for now. What’s your skin type?  Any questions before we move on to UV Index then how to protect yourself?

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