One of the most common misconceptions about sun exposure is that if you don’t burn, you’re safe from sun damage. To understand why this isn’t true, it’s important to know the difference between the two types of ultraviolet (UV) rays. UVA rays cause skin aging, while UVB rays cause skin burning. If you have naturally melanin-rich skin, you may not suffer the burning effects of UVB light because it has a shorter wavelength that only damages the outermost layer of skin. However, it doesn’t matter how much melanin your skin has to be affected by UVA rays. These rays are as much of a concern for those with darker skin tones as much they are for people with more fair complexions.
Let’s talk about UVA rays…
UVA rays have a long wavelength that can shine through glass and cloud coverage, which means they can penetrate deep into the tissue where they damage the collagen and elastin in your skin even when you’re sitting indoors during a thunderstorm. Collagen and elastin are what keeps our skin firm and smooth, so when they break down due to the free radicals generated by UVA exposure, the skin goes slack and starts to wrinkle (regardless of how much melanin is in your skin). UVA rays also mutates cellular DNA, which can lead to skin cancer.
How do you protect yourself?
Since staying away from all windows is not sustainable or a good idea, the best way to stay protected is to wear broad-spectrum SPF and UPF50+ clothing. The two of these will block out both types of UV rays so you’ll be protected against both sun burning and long term sun damage as well. Check out our collection of UPF50+ suits that can be worn both in the water and out!