UVA vs UVB: What’s the Difference? (Infographic)

It’s almost the summertime! And while it is generally acceptable to ‘get some sun’ during holidays, it does not lessen the fact that harmful rays from this should be a concern of everybody. Many would protect their skin by wearing long sleeves, don hats and caps, and even apply an extra layer of sunblock at the beach. But, did you know that sun exposure doesn’t just happen when you are outdoors, it can also happen through the window of your car?

During the summer, the sun is out for a longer period of time, which can also prolong the driver’s exposure to it, especially when driving long distances. It is a misconception that you are protected from the harmful UV rays when you are under shade and inside the vehicle. Not a lot of people know that the sunlight bounces, and could still bring danger to your skin and health. In fact, the majority of car owners receive most of their sun exposure when driving. As a result, doctors have found that sun damage is more common on the left side of an adult, because that is the side exposed to the sun while driving.

The types of UV radiation are classified according to their wavelength. They differ in their biological activity and the extent to which they can penetrate the skin. The shorter the wavelength, the more harmful the UV radiation. However, shorter wavelength UV radiation is less able to penetrate the skin.

UVA vs UVB What’s the difference

UVA Rays

The relatively long-wavelength UVA accounts for approximately 95 per cent of the UV radiation reaching the Earth’s surface. It can penetrate into the deeper layers of the skin and is responsible for the immediate tanning effect. Furthermore, it also contributes to skin ageing and wrinkling. For a long time it was thought that UVA could not cause any lasting damage. Recent studies strongly suggest that it may also enhance the development of skin cancers.

UVB Rays

On the other hand, medium-wavelength UVB is very biologically active but cannot penetrate beyond the superficial skin layers. It is responsible for delayed tanning and burning; in addition to these short-term effects it enhances skin ageing and significantly promotes the development of skin cancer. Most solar UVB is filtered by the atmosphere.

Protecting yourself from these harmful rays

No matter how severe or light the effects of these rays to your skin, it is important that you apply protection and minimize the risk of developing its side effects. Drivers, who are exposed under the sun should be more careful and spend more effort in protecting themselves. There are several ways to protect yourself while driving in your vehicle:

Don’t forget to apply SPF

The first is to apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of 15 or higher to your face, arms, neck and hands, about half an hour before you go driving. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends using about an ounce over the entire body, including a teaspoonful on the face. Because UVA passes through the window glass, make sure your sunscreen contains some combination of UVA-shielding ingredients such as zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, stabilized avobenzone, etc. Be sure to reapply after two hours, or after sweating heavily.

Wear proper clothing

Protective clothing, such as long-sleeved shirts, long pants, UV-blocking sunglasses, and hats with a brim of at least 3 inches all around also help shield against the sun’s radiation. Hats are particularly important for men who have thinning hair and are at risk for developing skin cancer on top of their heads.

Tint your car windows

Tint your car windows with window tints that block up to 99% of the sun’s harmful UV rays. Research has shown that UV damage is more extensive on the side of the body that is closer to the windows, which can be subverted by window tinting.

According to the research made by scientists from the Netherlands and Argentina, the same amount of sunshine a number of years ago was less harmful than today. This means that the average temperature has risen between two to four percent, greatly increasing new cases of skin cancer. The World Health Organization notes that UV rays are one of the main causes of skin cancer. Car window tints effectively block UV rays from entering the vehicle, which is one way of protecting your skin, as well as your eyes and immune system. Tinting is like applying an extra layer of your favorite sunscreen, not on your skin, but on your car’s windows.

Avoiding UV radiation exposure while driving or while in your vehicle boils down to putting up the right defenses against the effects of your exposure. Just like applying sunscreen to your skin, apply extra protection for you and your vehicle by having your car professionally tinted in time for summer!