Sun Care

UVA Rays, how damaging are they to the skin

UVA Rays account for 80% of skin ageing

If you genuinely care for the health of your skin.

And want to prevent it from looking like a toughened cowhide?

Then you should know that the rays from the sun are incredibly ageing.

That’s right, the rate at which your skin wrinkles and sags or develops cancerous lesions is all down to the exposure you give your skin to UV rays.

Frightening, as an educator and esthetician, the best advice I can ever give is to protect your skin from the sun’s damaging UV rays.

Getting to grips with UV

Radiation from the sun is commonly known to us as sunlight, comprised of short and high-energy rays:

  • cosmic
  • gamma
  • ultraviolet
  • infrared
  • microwaves
  • radio waves

These rays are highly intense; they travel towards Earth at around 300,000 km per second, most passing through the atmosphere.

The rays are known to have a detrimental effect on the skin:

  • UVA Ultraviolet rays
  • UVB Ultraviolet rays
  • UVC Ultraviolet rays
  • Infrared

These rays are created by the electromagnetic spectrum known as electromagnetic radiation; they have a shorter wavelength than visible light, which spans from 10 to 400 nm.

UVA rays

Referred to in the beauty industry as the Ageing ray, their wavelength sits between 320 to 400nm.

UVA rays are the silent killer rays, causing sun-damaged skin in the form of UVA radiation; they are responsible for around 30% of all sunburn.

UVA is highly damaging; it mutates our cellular DNA, penetrating down to the second layer of skin, the dermis. In this layer, it causes degenerative changes such as premature ageing and hyperpigmentation.

How UVA destroys your skin

When UVA rays heat the dermis, they excite the cells, generating free radicals; in response, the body’s immune system sends in elastase and collagenase, our repair enzymes.

The skin mistakes the UVA ray for a foreign body; it starts to attack the fibroblasts which give our skin structure and strength, breaking down healthy elastin and collagen,

Do you know you associate thick, leathery skin with excessive sun tanning? This is because continual exposure to UVA weakens the fibroblasts; they clump together in a mass, causing lines, wrinkles, broken capillaries and inflammation.

Blobs of toughened elastin rise from the dermal bed to the epidermis, which shows up as sun-damaged skin.

UVA versus UVB

So why is it that UVA ages, yet UVB only burns sometimes? UVB rays are short and energetic; they don’t travel long distances and are much stronger during the summer.

UVB is only a problem when the sun is at its highest around 12.00 p.m. until 2 p.m., and clouds, glass and clothing easily block UVB.

However, UVA rays are closer in wavelength to visible light and are present most of the day; they are much more intense and longer than UVB. The exposure we get from UVA can be misleading because it shows up in the skin as a delayed reaction.

The bottom line is that you feel bothered when exposed to UVA rays, even on a cloudy day; they continually rain down on the Earth’s surface, whatever the weather. I tell my clients to put in safe sun practices and wear sunscreen, whether winter or summer, because our skin is constantly exposed to ageing UVA rays.

Hopefully, you can see why it is essential always to wear sunscreen and carry out SAFE SUN PRACTICES toprotect your skin’s health.

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