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UVB Radiation
Although UVB rays are more powerful and considered more dangerous than UVA rays, the atmosphere filters out most of them. UVB rays are the most energetic of UV radiation but they penetrate only into the epidermis (the superficial layer of the skin). With exposure to UVB rays, people experience redness and feel a burning sensation. UVB radiation stimulates the tanning response. With excessive exposure to the UVB spectrum, the skin dries and wrinkles which imparts a prematurely aged appearance.

UVA rays are more insidious

We are unaware of their damaging effects because they manifest as erythema about 24 hours after exposure. UVA rays are dangerous because they cannot be filtered out adequately and play a key role in skin cancer. UVA rays penetrate deep into the dermis.

No matter what SPF (sun protection factor) sunscreen we use, none are totally effective in blocking out UV light. An SPF 16 blocks out almost 97% of the UVB rays while an SPF of 30 will block out about 98%. An SPF of 100 will block out only marginally more. About 2% of UVB light and more than 60% of UVA light will get through the "best" total block. Inorganic sun reflectants such as Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide provide better UVB and UVA protection. Zinc protects from most UVA rays, more than Titanium Oxide. The problem is that they are more difficult to formulate into strong "invisible" protection. They are removed by sweating and swimming. Therefore, they need to be reapplied frequently or after swimming. The best organic sunscreens in the United States for UVA are Avobenzone (known as Parsol 1789) and the Mexoryl variant.

Healthy Aging / Smart Sun Exposure

  • Effective Sunscreens should provide full spectrum sun protection to lessen the exposure skin has to ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays.
  •  Avoid being in the sun between peak hours of 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., when the suns rays are the strongest.
  •  Clothing and hats are the most effective sun protection.
  •  For prolonged outdoor sun exposure use a sunscreen with an SPF 16 to 20 that contains anti-oxidants.
  •  Always reapply your sunscreen after swimming. Ingredients contained in sunscreens penetrate more effectively when applied immediately following a bath or a shower when the skin is moist.
  •  Strictly avoid using sun lamps or tanning beds.
  •  A sunscreen should provide antioxidants to neutralize damaging free radicals. (Pomegranate extract, green tea, Vitamins C and E, grape seed extract).
  •  Anti-inflammatory agents (zinc, chamomile, licorice extract) help to soothe and prevent redness.
  •  Hydrating ingredients (Hyaluronic acid, plant based lipids) help to boost hydration.
  •  Alcohol based sunscreens provide long lasting, waterproof protection. When the alcohol evaporates, the sunscreen ingredients penetrate the skin and bind to the top layer.
  •  Most people do not use enough sunscreen. One ounce is needed for all-over the body protection.

In conclusion, somehow, we have to find the ideal balance between the benefits and the dangers of sunlight. We need to find a balance between enjoying the sun's rays and protecting ourselves from sun damage.

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