What are UV rays?
When we think of UV rays we typically think of them coming from the sun. There are two types of ultraviolet (UV) radiation, UVA and UVB.
- UVA can pass through glass and penetrate deeper into the skin and are responsible for sun damage, wrinkles, and premature ageing. UVA rays maintain the same level of strength throughout daylight hours and all year round, which is why it is important to be aware of them.
- UVB rays are the ones that cause sunburns, which we can see and feel. UVB rays can damage your skin all year round, however the intensity does fluctuate depending on time of day, altitude, and season. UVB rays can be filtered and do not penetrate glass.
Both UVA and UVB rays can cause skin cancer, with UV radiation being the leading cause of skin cancer, which is why it is important to make sure that you protect your skin.
Why does my skin tan in the sun?
Tanning is the skin’s response to UV exposure. The skin makes melanin to try and absorb the UV rays and prevent further damage to the skin. The increase in melanin is what causes skin to darken and what we know as a tan. Having a tan doesn’t protect your skin for skin damage or sunburns. Sunburns develop when the UV ray damage exceeds the protection that melanin can provide.
A tan essentially represents damage to the skin caused by the sun.
Exposure to UV rays
Sunlight is the main exposure to UV rays for most of the population. The intensity of the UV rays that reach the ground depend on:
- Time of day: UV rays are strongest between 10am-4pm
- Season: UV rays are stronger during the summer and spring months; however, it is still important to remember that they can penetrate through clouds and are still here in winter months
- Surfaces: water, sand, snow, pavements can all reflect UV rays which increases exposure
- Altitude: the higher up you are, the more UV rays
- Distance from the equator: UV exposure decreases as you move away from the equator
UV exposure depends on all these factors, along with how long skin is exposed to UV rays and if the skin is protected (sunscreen or clothing).
It’s not just the sunshine…
When we think of UV rays we think of those that come from the sun, however, tanning booths/sunbeds are a source of UV rays too, and mainly omit UVA rays. The amount of UV rays in a tanning booth depends on the lamps used, duration used, and frequency. Previously tanning booths/sunbeds were seen to be safe, however, we now know this is not true.
Skin treatment and UV rays
There are some skin conditions whereby phototherapy (UV therapy) is used to help the condition.
Skin Appearance and UV Rays
Long-term exposure to UV rays slows down the rate of skin cell renewal and causes pigmentation or brown spots. It also destroys the collagen and elastin in your skin, which are involved in the firmness of your skin as well as the elasticity of your skin. This all leads to signs of premature ageing.
Skin cancer and UV rays
As mentioned before, most cases of skin cancer are caused by exposure to UV rays. Squamous and basal cell carcinoma have been linked to UV rays, with both of these appearing on areas of skin which are exposed to the sun. Melanoma has been linked to UV exposure which leads to sunburns.
It has been found that those who use tanning booths/sunbeds have a higher risk of skin cancer, including melanoma, squamous and basal cell carcinoma.
Both sun exposure and tanning booth/sunbeds UV exposure can increase the risk of developing skin cancer. As well as burning, premature ageing of the skin, wrinkles, and other signs of sun damage.
Ways you can protect your skin:
- Use a broad spectrum sunscreen (UVA and UVB protection), you can read more about the importance of SPF here.
- Stay in the shade if outside (especially during midday hours)
- Wear a hat
- Wear sunglasses
- Wear clothing that covers you
- Avoid using tanning booths/sunbeds
Vitamin D and UV Rays
When our skin is exposed to UVB rays it induces the production of vitamin D. In the UK the UV rays are only strong enough to produce vitamin D between April to September. However, it is important to be careful to not burn in the sun so take care and only expose your skin to the sun for short periods of time and make sure you use SPF before you burn, as the longer you stay in the sun without any skin protection, the greater your risk of skin damage. It is recommended that from September to March everyone in the UK supplements with a vitamin D.
As tanning booths/sunbeds use predominantly UVA rays, they do not increase the production of vitamin D and increase the risk of skin cancer, and so are not recommended for helping increase vitamin D levels
Can’t be without a glow? Safe Tanning options
Our Naturally Glowing Tan Drops and Mousse are the perfect way to get that summer glow without exposing your skin to harmful UV rays.
Certified Vegan, Cruelty Free, and completely free from Palm Oil, our Naturally Glowing Tan products will give you a natural looking tan. Both have a quick-drying formula, with none of that dodgy fake tan smell! You can shop our Tanning Range here.
It’s best to protect your skin as much as possible. Even on cloudy days, and when inside we should be using an SPF. Tanning from UV rays is a sign of skin damage, and both sun exposure and tanning booths/sunbeds are not safe. UV exposure can lead to premature ageing, wrinkles, burning, and skin cancer.
Please note: this is general information and does not replace specific advice given by a GP or dermatologist.
About Lucy Bee Limited
Any information provided by us is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. We always recommend referring your health queries to a qualified medical practitioner.
Lucy Bee is a lifestyle brand selling food, skincare and soap products all completely free from palm oil and with minimal use of plastic. Lucy Bee is concerned with Fair Trade, organic, ethical and sustainable living, recycling and empowering people to make informed choices and select quality, natural products for their food and their skin.