Different types of UV rays

Different types of UV rays

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HomeSunscreensSunscreen: need to knowDifferent types of UV rays

Most of the damage from the sun comes from UV (ultra violet) rays - UVA and UVB.

UVB rays penetrate into the outer layer of the skin and damages the cells resulting in inflamed skin or sunburn.

UVA rays penetrate more deeply causing direct damage to the skin's supporting tissues, which contributes to the signs of skin ageing.

Therefore, we need to be protected against each of these types of UV rays. This section shows how sunscreen helps protects us from harmful UV rays of the sun and why we can be confident in the protection labelled on-pack.


What are the different types of UV filters?

The key ingredients of sunscreens are UV filters. Their job is to help cut down the amount of ultraviolet (UV) rays reaching the skin.

They typically fall into two main categories:

  • synthetic or organic filters, which absorb UV light; and

  • mineral or inorganic filters, such as titanium dioxide, which mainly reflect UV light.

Because different UV filters tend to be effective against different wavelengths of UV, most sun protection products include filters for both UVA and UVB. This means they provide a broad spectrum of protection across the whole range of UV rays.


UV index 

When checking the weather forecast, you might have noticed something called the UV index showing you whether UV intensity is going to be low, medium, high or very high. 

The UV index is an internationally standardised scale measuring the strength of UV rays.  Often, the UV index is presented as low, medium, high or very high but it can also be presented as a numerical scale.   

The UV index is designed to warn people that they might be at increased risk of damaging UV rays on certain days, and to take steps to protect themselves from the sun. 

Index

Exposure

1-2

Low

3-5

Moderate

6-7

High

8-10

Very High

11

Extreme