Effects of Sun Damage

To effectively prevent your skin from sun damage, it is important to understand exactly how the sun affects our skin in the first place.

There are two types of ultraviolet radiation waves that reach earth’s surface from the sun and lead to skin damage and increased risk of skin cancer – UVA & UVB.

Ultraviolet A  (UVA)

  • Penetrate the skin more deeply
  • Associated with wrinkling, leathering, sagging, and other effects of photoaging
  • Exacerbate the carcinogenic effects of UVB rays

Ultraviolet B  (UVB)

  • Associated with causing sunburns
  • Strong contributor to the development of skin cancer (particularly malignant melanoma)

Purpose of Sunscreen

Sunscreens are chemical agents that help prevent the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation from penetrating the skin’s surface.

Ingredients in Sunscreen

Sunscreens vary in their ability to protect against UVA and UVB depending on their particular ingredients.

It is important to consider the degree of SPF or Sun Protection Factor listed on the specific sunscreen product. SPF is a measure of a sunscreen’s ability to prevent UVB from damaging the skin.

Higher SPF products can block a higher percentage of incoming UVB rays:

  • SPF 15 blocks approximately 93 percent of all incoming UVB rays
  • SPF 30 blocks 97 percent of all incoming UVB rays
  • SPF 50 blocks 98 percent of all incoming UVB rays

It is important to note that sunscreen can block most incoming UV rays but not all of them.

We recommend choosing a broad spectrum sunscreen that offers protection against both UVA and UVB rays.

Tips for Applying Sunscreen

Things to know regarding sunscreen application:

  • Sunscreen should be applied daily even if staying indoors
  • Use at least 1 oz worth of product on the face alone with each application
  • Apply 30 minutes before sun exposure
  • Re-apply at least every 2 hours & more frequently if sweating or swimming

Additional Information About Suncreens from AAD.org