What is Sunshine?
The sunshine we experience here on Earth is made up of radiation. Some of this radiation is harmless and cannot penetrate the skin protecting our bodies. Ultraviolet (UV) sun rays can get through this barrier, and too much can be damaging to our skin. UV light comes in three forms, ultraviolet A (UVA), ultraviolet B (UVB) and ultraviolet C (UVC):
UVB provides the energy your skin needs to make vitamin D, but it is also responsible for sunburn and direct DNA damage.
UVA also contributes to skin damage, particularly premature ageing.
UVC is blocked by the earth’s atmosphere and therefore does not reach the skin.
The majority of sunlight impacting the skin is caused by UVB and UVA rays. UVA rays are present constantly throughout the day, passing right through clouds and windows to penetrate deep into the skin. UVB rays, however, are strongest at noon and though they penetrate the skin less deeply, they affect DNA more and, therefore, are the most dangerous.
The amount of UV light the skin comes into contact with depends on many factors, such as the time of day, the season, altitude and geographical location. During times of intense UV radiation, for example midday on a hot summer’s day, it is advisable to wear protective clothing and sunscreen when going out doors.
Residents of Colorado have the highest UV exposure in the country due to our high elevation, lack of protective atmosphere, +300 days of sunshine every year, and love for the outdoors. Tourists visiting Colorado's ski resorts receive up to 80% additional ultraviolet radiation as it reflects off the snow.
UV Radiation and Skin Cancer
Sunlight, especially UVA and UVB rays can cause sunburn, premature skin ageing, eye damage, a weakened immune system, photoallergic and phototoxic reactions, and even skin cancer. These UV rays are able to penetrate the skin and damage the cells' DNA. Skin cells with damaged DNA can continue to replicate and, depending on each individual's genetic make-up, can become cancerous.
Researchers and physicians have shown a strong correlation between excess UV exposure and the development of skin cancer, including:
Squamous cell carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma
Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer but it is also one of the easiest to prevent. Click the link below to find out more about Melanoma.
How to Protect Yourself From UV Radiation
Both UVA and UVB rays have detrimental effects on the skin but the intensity of UVA rays is more consistent throughout the day whereas the intensity of UVB fluctuates. The sun protection factor (SPF) ranking system for sunscreens is based on the level of UVB protection the product offers. However, products containing the UVA protection symbol have to provide a minimum level of UVA protection. The ratio should be 1:3 for UVA: UVB protection. It is therefore important to find out the intensity of UV light in your area each day and apply an appropriate level of UV protection. The European Cosmetics Trade Association (formerly Colipa) has also set UV-protection standards for sunscreens. International Standard ISO 24444-2010 is a reliable method of testing the UV efficacy of sunscreen products, and is in line with EU Commission.
The optimal sun protection has to be chosen due to the individual skin´s sensitivity to sun (skin pigmentation) and radiation intensity. The sun protection factor (SPF) multiplied by the skin´s natural protection in minutes indicates the maximum length of exposure to sun without risking UV induced skin damage.
In general, an SPF of at least 30 applied EVERY 2 HOURS is sufficient to keep oneself completely protected from the harmful radiation of the sun. Apply a generous amount to the skin being exposed to the sun. To cover the whole body, this amounts to about 1 oz. or a shotglass filled with sunscreen.
It can be difficult to constantly apply sunscreen, especially for those constantly exposed to the sun. Other forms of sun protection are available that do not require constant attention. Check out our online store for more information.