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UVA Rays vs. UVB Rays

Learn the difference between UVA rays and UVB rays from licensed esthetician Joanna Vargas in this Howcast video.


A lot of people ask me what's the difference between UVA and UVB rays? What are they?

Well, let me explain it to you. We've seen it all the time on sunscreen but here's the deal. UVA rays penetrate really deep into all the layers of your skin. It's what makes you get a tan. That may sound safer to you but in reality those rays are going to cause more wrinkles and more hyper-pigmentation on your skin. By the time you hit forty you're going to start to see more wrinkles coming out of your skin and it's actually going to get easier to get a tan. That's not good. That means that all of the sun damage that occurred as you were growing up from those rays penetrating into your skin is starting to show itself, and it's not going to be pretty.

UVB rays hit more on the surface of the skin. That's what causes a sunburn and it also is what causes skin cancer. So when you're looking for sunscreens you need to look for sunscreen that protects you against UVA and UVB rays. UVB rays get a bad rap as being the dangerous ones. But frankly they're both dangerous. You don't want sun damage. You don't want it to be affecting the way you look at yourself in the mirror and you don't want to take a risk at a really serious illness because you were careless about the sun. My recommendation is to always use a sunscreen with both UVA and UVB protection and use it every time you go outside. Your skin will appreciate it and you'll feel better about yourself for doing it.

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