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As the years go by, many of us hide from the sun. We switched to hats and long-covered tops, worshiping broad-spectrum sunscreen over bronzing. And rightly so, knowing that Sun exposure causes up to 80% of signs of skin aging.

But the sun is not enemy number one. Its health benefits keep us energized and its mood-boosting effects give us the ultimate summer feeling we know and love. So, if you’re curious about how to enjoy the sun while still protecting your skin, Learning about solar and ultraviolet (UV) radiation types is key.

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What is the solar spectrum?

The sun plays an important role in our health, contributes to our mental well-being, and plays a role in vitamin D synthesis. But it also emits something called electromagnetic radiation. While some radiation is absorbed, scattered, and reflected before reaching us, radiation reaching the Earth’s surface is called solar spectrum.

The solar spectrum is made up of different types of radiation that are measured and classified according to their electromagnetic frequencies. Some of them, like ultraviolet A (UVA) radiation and ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation, sound familiar. However, visible blue light and infrared radiation can also alter the appearance of your skin.

The above spectrum of solar radiation ranges from the strongest rays (ultraviolet) to the least intense rays (infrared rays). Let’s find out how each type affects your skin.

What is the difference between UVA and UVB radiation?

UVB radiation

Responsible for tan lines in the summer, these rays are mainly affect the surface of the skin. Exposure to UVB radiation occurs outdoors and varies with time of day, geographical location, and weather.

Although UVB radiation only reaches the outermost layer of our skin, it can also have long-lasting effects. Aurora Garre, MD, ISDIN Medical Director, explains that UVB radiation is “a major cause of short-term skin damage.” such as sunburn.

Fortunately, our body’s antioxidant system can help repair DNA damage caused by overexposure to UVB radiation. However, repeated sunburn can reduce our natural ability to regenerate, increases our risk of skin cancer.


Key skin concerns: Sunburns and their role in skin cancer

Where did the exposure occur? Outdoors in all weather conditions, although to varying degrees

Extra credit: When we talk about SPF, we refer to Sun protection factor against UVB radiation. Protection ranges from low (from 6 to 10 SPF), medium (15-25), high (30-50), to very high (50+).

UVA radiation

On the other hand, “UVA radiation causes lasting damage, such as pictures and skin cancer,” said Dr. Garre. It penetrates deep into the skin and breaks down collagen, which contributes to the appearance of lines and wrinkles. UVA radiation can also induce immunosuppression and is a major cause of solar allergy.

Unlike UVB, UVA rays can reach your skin even on cloudy days and inside your car, office or home. So remember that it’s important to protect yourself every day, all year round.


Key skin concerns: Signs of skin aging, sun allergies and skin cancer

Where did the exposure occur? Indoor and outdoor, all year round

Extra credit: Option sunscreen labeled as broad spectrum – meaning it meets FDA standards for UVA protection. And the higher the SPF, the higher the protection from UVA rays.

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Can other types of solar radiation affect my skin?

Blue sunlight

We can thank this kind of solar energy for the gift of sight. Blue light is high-energy visible light in the range of radiation visible to the human eye. Reaching us both indoors and outdoors, we are exposed to blue sunlight every day.

But that’s not all good news. Recent studies have shown that blue sunlight is associated with the occurrence of dark spots or uneven pigmentation, especially in people with darker skin tones. And its synergistic effect with UV radiation has also been found to be harmful to the skin.


Key skin concerns: Dark spots and uneven pigmentation

Where did the exposure occur? Indoor and outdoor, all year round

Extra credit: The damage that blue sunlight can cause is often related to artificial blue light emitted from the screen. However, don’t cancel the live stream. Solar blue light is 100 to 1000 times more intense than the blue light emitted by screens – making your sunscreen use a priority over cutting down on screen time.

Infrared radiation

Used in physical therapy treatments, this type of radiation can help relieve pain and muscle pain with intense, localized heat.

But along with its healing properties there are also disadvantages. Infrared radiation can penetrate the skin and create harmful oxidative stress. It also works synergistically with UV radiation, moreover Increase photography sign.


Key skin concerns: Amplify the signs of skin aging

Where did the exposure occur? Indoor and outdoor

Extra credit: Did you know that working in high temperatures can make you age? Extreme heat (via infrared radiation A) has been shown to increase the appearance of skin aging. And temperature is just one of the factors that affect your skin.

How can I protect myself?

Consciousness is strength! Solar radiation plays a positive role in our daily lives, but uncontrolled exposure can pose health risks. Understanding the effects of different types of solar radiation and UV rays can help you make smart decisions about daily sun protection. Explore our line of high SPF sunscreens, broad spectrum sunscreenS.


GW Lambert, C Reid, DM Kaye, GL Jennings, MD Esler, Effect of sunlight and season on serotonin turnover in the brain, The Lancet, Volume 360, Issue 9348, 2002, Pages 1840-1842
Jean Krutmann, Anne Bouloc, Gabrielle Sore, Bruno A. Bernard, Thierry Passeron, The skin aging exposome, Journal of Dermatological Science, Volume 85, Issue 3, 2017,Pages 152-161
Duteil L, Queille-Roussel C, Lacour JP, Montaudie H, Passeron T. Short-term exposure to blue light emitted by electronic devices does not worsen melasma. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 2019.
Khmaladze I, Leonardi M, Fabre S, Messaraa C, Mavon A. The Skin Interactome: A Holistic "Genome-Microbiome-Exposome" Approach to Understand and Modulate Skin Health and Aging. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2020;13:1021-1040. Published 2020 Dec 24. 

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