Have you ever noticed how people who smile a lot seem to look so much younger? It’s true, a smile not only brightens your day it brightens your countenance. The lines will go on your face where the smiles have been, or the frowns, at least that choice is up to you. But what are some of the other things that cause our faces to age, maybe even prematurely?
We now know a bit about the sun’s rays, how they warm us, body and soul; and how the sun’s UV radiation can cause our skin to age. However, this superfluous knowledge is not enough. It seems that the sun has several types of UV radiation; UVA1, UVA2, UVB and UVC. Let’s take a deeper dive into these types of UV and maybe find a way we can enjoy the sun on our smiling faces.
Least discussed ultraviolet light is type C. It is often ignored since it does not pass the earth’s ozone layer. Consequently, it is of little concern for your skin health or premature aging. However, UVC is important and is being harnessed as a method to disinfect medical facilities.
Next is UVB which is far more concerning for our skin health since it reaches the earth’s surface. This short wavelength ray from the sun penetrates the outer most layer of our skin (the epidermal). UVB is an incredibly powerful light wave, it causes sunburns, skin discolorations, mole growth and in extreme cases some forms of skin cancer. The intensity of this UV light varies by season, by geographical location, and by time of day. Due to these variations, it is often said that you should avoid being in the sun between 10-16 during the Spring and Summer months, when the UVB is the strongest. However, UVB rays do cause burns and damage to your skin year-round, especially at higher elevations (like snow skiing), or from reflective surfaces, such as snow, ice, and white sand. The good news is that UVB rays are also very high intensity waves. This means they do not penetrate glass; so, you’re safe from UVB sitting by a window, or riding in a car!
UVA is the most common natural UV light but is significantly different from the other two, so it is broken down into two additional subcategories: UVA1 and UVA2. UVA accounts for 95% of all UV that reaches our skin. It penetrates the dermis layer of skin (deeper than the epidermis), and causes photo-aging, as well as changes in melanin which results in tanning. Since UVA reaches the dermis layer of your skin it can cause damage to your skin’s fibers (such as elastin and collagen) which are the elements that give you a smooth and youthful appearance. UVA1 is responsible for 75% of all photo-damage done to your skin. Moreover, if the dermis layer of skin is damaged the effect can prevent your skin from repairing itself resulting in premature aging wrinkles, dark spots, and it has been recently discovered that UVA is the initiator of several skin cancers. These rays should be considered a silent killer, because unlike UVB you cannot feel the effects of their damage. Furthermore, both UVA1 and UVA2 can penetrate normal types of glass due to their lower and slower wave lengths.
Considering all the potential problems UVA1, UVA2, and UVB can cause, using sunscreen daily is of the upmost importance. Most articles on sunscreen will advise you to use a ‘broad spectrum’ sunscreen in order to protect against all types of UV light. This is true, and important. However, in the case of UVA1 the only substances in sunscreen known to block this wavelength are zinc oxide and avobenzone. If a sunscreen does not contain either of these substances, you are not protected from the photo-aging damages of UVA1.
So with this knowledge we now know we need to keep track of how much UVA1, UVA2 and UVB we are exposed to. Fortunately, Smartsun spots and bracelets allow you to track your exposure to the sunshine by turning from yellow, to peach, to orange, and finally to ever deepening shades of pink. Smartsun is the only indicator that warns you for all types of UV rays, A1, A2, and B. These indicators tell you when it is time to reapply your sunscreen or when to go inside. A practical way to keep your face looking younger. Now how can we work on our smiles? Maybe a bit of enjoyable time in the sun!
Save this as a reminder on how to stay safe from UV!
The Skin Cancer Foundation, 2019. “UVA &UVB” The Skin Cancer Foundation. [Online] Available at: [LINK]
University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinic, 2019. “What is the difference between UVA and UVB rays?” The University of Iowa. [Online] Available at: [LINK]
CDC, 2019. “UV Radiation” United States Center for Disease Control. [Online] Available at: [LINK]
ARPANSA, 2019. “Sun exposure and health” Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency. [Online] Available at: [LINK]