Sunscreen, Sunblock and UVA/UVB Explained
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Understanding sun rays and sun tanning lotions will help you get the best tan.
There are two main types of UV light that comes from the sun:
UVA – These sun rays are the ‘tanning’ rays. These penetrate deeper into the skin where the ‘tanning’ occurs. Least associated with causing skin cancer.
UVB – These sun rays are the more damaging “burning” rays. These affect the surface of the skin. UVB rays help your body produce Vitamin D but over exposure to these rays can cause skin cancer – Melanoma, Basal Cell Carcinoma and Squamous Cell Carcinoma. Melanoma is the deadliest of all skin cancers.
Fact: A sunburn does NOT turn into a sun tan.
There are basically two types of lotions to protect from the suns rays:
Sunscreen – This typically will ‘screen’ the sun rays, blocking out the harmful UVB rays. Prevents burning and ALLOWS sun tanning.
Sunblock – This type of lotion will block both the UVA and UVB rays. This prevents sun burning AND sun tanning.
The Sun Protection Factor (SPF)
The SPF number is used in a simple formula to calculate how much longer you can stay in the sun without getting a sunburn.
If you typically get a sunburn after 10 minutes in the sun and plan on staying in the sun for about 60 minutes you could use SPF 6:
10 minutes x SPF 6 = 60 minutes
Minutes to burn x SPF = Total minutes protection
Everyone has a different time frame as to when they will show signs of a sunburn. An average time before you experience a sunburn is about 30 minutes. The higher the SPF number doesn’t necessarily mean that much better of a protection, it means a longer duration of protection.
Typical Sunscreen Ingredients:
Typical Sunblock Ingredients:
The ingredients of sunblock and sunscreen products can vary, as well as the % of each ingredient. Both UVA and UVB rays are harmful – But if you MUST tan use a SUNSCREEN to block the UVB rays.
From 10am to 2pm – this is when the sun will be at its ideal strength for tanning.
You may tan more quickly on the beach due to the reflective quality of the sand.
One key thing to note: You will not notice a sunburn until hours after you have the sunburn so ALWAYS keep track of time in relation to the application of sunscreen.
A sunburn does NOT help a suntan, and getting a sunburn will make it painful to return to the sun the next day.