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UVA vs. UVB rays: What's the Difference?

Sun Care & Self-Tanning

UVA vs. UVB rays: What's the Difference? UVA vs. UVB rays: What's the Difference? UVA vs. UVB rays: What's the Difference?

When it comes to sun protection, everyone knows that wearing sunscreen is important to help keep the sun’s rays from causing damage to your skin—at least, we hope everyone knows that! What you might not know is that there is more than one type of ray that plays into sun care. There are UVA and UVB rays. You’ve likely seen both listed on bottles of SPF, but do you know the difference? Below, we’re sharing just that, along with our best skin care products for UVA and UVB protection.

UVA VS. UVB RAYS: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

As you can probably guess, UVA and UVB rays both fall under UV radiation. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, both rays are proven to contribute to the risk of skin cancer, though they do have their differences. Ultraviolet A (UVA) rays have a longer wavelength and contribute to skin aging, while ultraviolet B (UVB) rays have a shorter wavelength and contribute to skin burning, per the Skin Cancer Foundation. To help you better understand them, allow us to dive into detail about each type of UV radiation.

WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT UVA RAYS

UVA rays are slightly less intense than UVB rays, but they penetrate your skin more deeply. This type of radiation can result in tanned skin, premature aging, and skin cancer. It’s also the same type of light typically used in tanning beds, per the Skin Cancer Foundation. Think being indoors will protect you from these harmful rays? As it turns out, UVA rays can penetrate through windows and clouds, meaning it’s best practice to wear an SPF that provides protection against them whenever exposed to sunlight. 

WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT UVB RAYS

Unlike UVA rays, UVB rays only penetrate and damage the outmost layers of skin, per the Skin Cancer Foundation, but that’s doesn’t make them any less harmful! Overexposure can result in tanned skin, burning, and blistering. UVB rays vary in intensity throughout the day, being strongest in the afternoon. The Skin Cancer Foundation states this type of ray cannot penetrate glass and can be filtered.

5 PRODUCTS FOR UVA AND UVB PROTECTION

When searching for products that provide both UVA and UVB protection, you’ll want to look for those formulated with broad-spectrum SPF—this means they can protect against both types of UV rays. Need some recs? Below, we’re sharing five moisturizers with SPF that’ll help defend your skin against UVA and UVB rays when used in combination with other sun protection measures. Smooth one on as the last step in your morning skin care routine, then make sure to reapply SPF throughout the day every two hours.

L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Triple Power Day Lotion SPF 30: In addition to being formulated with broad-spectrum SPF 30, this moisturizer contains Pro-Retinol, vitamin C, and hyaluronic acid to help reduce the appearance of wrinkles, firm, and brighten your skin.

L’Oréal Paris Age Perfect Rosy Tone Broad-Spectrum SPF 30 Sunscreen: This moisturizer for mature skin contains imperial peony for a formula that renew sand revives a healthy skin tone, plus it has broad-spectrum SPF 30 to help protect your complexion against the sun’s harmful rays.

L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Bright Reveal Brightening Day Moisturizer SPF 30: Formulated with broad-spectrum SPF 30, glycolic acid, vitamin C, and Pro-Retinol, this moisturizer with SPF helps to reveal brighter skin, help correct uneven skin tone, and reduce the appearance of wrinkles.

L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Anti Wrinkle Firming Day Cream SPF 25: This daily moisturizer contains broad-spectrum SPF 25 to help protect your skin. The anti-aging formula works to smooth, firm, and reduce visible wrinkles while providing long-lasting hydration.

L’Oréal Paris Men Expert Vita Lift SPF 15 Anti-Wrinkle & Firming Moisturizer: Men, we have you covered! Formulated with broad-spectrum SPF 15, this moisturizer helps to protect your skin against damaging rays. It also contains fortified Pro-Retinol A and helps reduce the look of wrinkles and sagging skin on your face and neck.

In addition to wearing sunscreen or a moisturizer with SPF, make sure to take other sun protection measures. The Food & Drug Administration recommends limiting time in the sun, especially during peak hours from 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. and covering skin with clothing and protective accessories like UV-blocking sunglasses.

Next up: Want to become more familiar with sun protection and broaden your knowledge on the topic of sunscreen? Head over to our article, Which Sunscreen is Best? Physical vs. Chemical Sunscreen, for your next sun care lesson.