UVA vs. UVB rays: What’s the difference and how to stay protected from both?

Written by Urvi DalalJul 08, 2020

The fact that you need to wear sunscreen every single day, come rain or come shine and irrespective of whether you’re indoors or outdoors, is common knowledge. Because no matter what season it is or what the weather is like, UV rays are always out there to damage your skin.

But have you ever wondered why UV rays affect the skin to this extent? Which one is more harmful — UVA or UVB? What the hell is the difference between the two and how to protect yourself from both? Well, we’re going to put an end to all of those questions right here.

What are UVA rays:

UVA rays are the most common type of sun rays that reach the earth. They have the ability to penetrate deeper into your skin and cause cell damage. These are the kind of rays you really can’t escape from as they can penetrate through windows and clouds as well. UVA rays are what causes problems such as sunburn, tanning, cancer, pigmentation, premature ageing, etc.

What are UVB rays:

UVB rays are filtered by the atmosphere quite a bit, but they still have the ability to cause skin damage. Unlike UVA rays, they don’t penetrate deep into your skin, but cause surface damage such as tanning and sunburn. It is also the biggest cause of malignant melanoma, which is a common form of skin cancer.

How to protect yourself from UV rays:


01. Wear sunscreen at all times

Applying and reapplying sunscreen is the best way to protect your skin against sun damage. Look for a sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum UV protection. What this does is protect your skin against both, UVA and UVB rays. Never step out of your house without applying a generous amount of sunscreen on every inch of your body that is exposed and keep reapplying every two to three hours for maximum protection.


02. Wear covered clothes

If you’re stepping out, especially in the summers, it is important to wear clothes that cover as much skin as possible. This prevents the UV rays from coming in contact with your skin and damaging it.

03. Wear protective gear

UVA and UVB rays affect not just your skin, but your eyes and hair as well. Therefore, always wear a hat and sunglasses when you’re out in the sun between 12 pm to 4 pm to keep your hair, skin and eyes thoroughly protected from ultraviolet rays.