skincare info

UVA + UVB = Sun Rays

People ask us all the time, “What’s the big deal about sunscreen?”

Here’s your 5 minute sun smart lesson…read on, this information will save your skin and may help save your life or the life of someone you love!

You know when you see older people and their skin looks all leathery and wrinkled and they are covered in brown spots?  Well, that’s because the sun has damaged their skin. Almost all of the roughness, deeper wrinkles, freckles, and brown spots we associate with aging is caused by sun damage.  The good news, though, is that most of it is preventable.  Wearing your sunscreen EVERY DAY helps prevent sun damage.

The sun is basically a giant nuclear reactor that is constantly generating enormous amounts of energy.  Much of that energy (light and heat) is very helpful and without it there would be no life on earth!  Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is another part of the energy produced by the sun.  There are 2 types of UV rays that reach the earth’s surface, UVA and UVB (a third type of UV, called UVC, is blocked by the earth’s atmosphere).  Although you can’t see or feel UV rays, they are what cause sun damage in your skin and are also harmful to your eyes and other parts of your body.

UVB rays are the rays that BURN you (B = BURN). UVB rays are most powerful on bright, sunny days from 10am to 4pm.  Many of you already know to wear your sunscreen at the pool, the beach, soccer games or any time you’re going to be outside for a long time so you don’t get a sunburn.

But most people don’t know much about UVA rays.  UVA rays are the rays that AGE you (A = AGE).  These are the rays that make your skin look old!  They make up about 90% of the UV rays that we are exposed to every day.  They get to us at full strength from sun up until sun down, whether it is sunny, cloudy, or raining – UVA rays get through it all.  That means the UVA rays are also beaming down on us while we are driving in our cars, walking to and from school, playing on the playground, at soccer practice and even when sitting by a sunny window at home or school.  Over time it adds up and all of that UVA exposure damages our skin and makes us look old.

Even more important than aging and sunburns, we know that UVA and UVB rays cause skin cancer!  But if you are sun smart and wear your sunscreen every day (making sure it is broad spectrum with at least SPF 30!), like P.R.E.P. SPF 30 face+body lotion – your risk of getting skin cancer drops by 50%…that’s right, it is cut in half!  And, when you wear hats or long sleeves and find shade whenever you can, you are also protecting your skin.  Big umbrellas work great for providing shade as they block the sun and keep you cool when you are at the beach, at the pool, or at a soccer, softball or any outdoor game.

Remember SKIN is the body’s largest organ, your birthday suit, the one outfit you can NEVER take off. Protect it and PREP YOUR SKIN every day for a lifetime of healthy skin!  To learn more about the sun, read our 5 Sun Facts You Want To Know!

Our UVA + UVB Diagram is a great way to remember the UV rays. Feel free to print and share for educational purposes (print landscape on a 8.5×11 sheet of paper).

Stay healthy,

carole aponte, md

Founder & Chief Medical Officer


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