The Leather Look Isn't Good On You

by guest blogger, Anne Houseman, of Beauty Xpose

uv raysNow that we know more about how much SPF we should use on a daily basis and why sun protection is important, this week, let’s learn a little more about the infamous acronyms UVA and UVB.

Ultraviolet — or UV — radiation is part of the electromagnetic (light) spectrum from the sun that reaches the earth. These wavelengths are shorter than visible light, making it invisible to the naked eye (remember those prisms you looked at in high school science class that decoded different ray colors?). The wavelengths are classified as UVA, UVB, or UVC (though UVC rays never reach us, since they get filtered out by the ozone), with UVA being “long wave” and UVB “short wave” rays.

Dr. Howard Sobel, a leading cosmetic dermatologist and skincare expert in Manhattan, explains that while some believe that only UVB rays are harmful, in truth, both UVA and UVB rays are responsible for tanning your skin and causing sunburn. He asserts that UVB rays, which will penetrate windows and can cause damage even on a cloudy day, are the cause of skin cancer. What’s more, he says that even though UVA rays are less likely to cause sunburn, they can penetrate skin more deeply.

“Prolonged exposure to UVA rays will crack and shrink the collagen and elastin in your skin,” said Dr. Sobel. “This is why UVA rays are responsible for causing wrinkles, sun spots of hyperpigmentation, and saggy, leathery skin.”

Leathery skin — just the look we’re all going for, right?

To avoid looking just like your favorite Michael Kors bag, Dr. Alex Khadavi, a board certified dermatologist and Associate Professor of Dermatology at USC, says that in general, the best sunscreens are the physical blocking suncreens like Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide, which block both UVA and UVB.

“The chemical sunscreens individually only address one spectrum better the other spectrum and therefore need to be mixed,” he said.

So find a broad-spectrum sunscreen, lotion up, and soak up your summer sun rays safely.

Photos: Cover – Abhishek Gaurav; UV Rays – Robert Michie

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