Skincare Basics: UV Rays and SPF

20 June 2018

Summer is here: with rocking temperature and burning sunshine. While we all long to get a healthy glow tan, summer actually takes its biggest tolls on our skin. This is because we are exposed to long hours of daylight and extra doses of UV Rays.

So in this blog, we would like to explain some basics regarding UV Rays and SPF, and how you can protect your skin while still making the most of the summer sun.



What Are UV Rays?

“UV” stands for Ultraviolet Rays. These invisible rays are a part of the energy that comes from the sun. There are three types of UV Rays. Depend on their wavelengths, they are categorised into UVA, UVB, and UVC.

How Do UV Rays Affect The Skin?


UVA is the main contributors to ageing. It is the longest of the three rays. These rays can penetrate through clouds, window and into the dermis. Prolonged exposure shrinks collagen and elastin fibers and causes fine lines, wrinkles, and loss of elasticity.

Also, the amount of UVA exposure doesn’t change throughout the year. It doesn’t matter it’s a cloudy day or you are sitting behind the window glass, we are exposed to UVA all year round. That is why if someone drives a lot, the level of ageing will be worse on the driver’s side (right).


UVB is the kind of UV Rays that are most responsible for sunburn. The intensity of UVB Rays varies depending on location, time of the day and time of the year. This is generally what you protect yourself from when you are away on a holiday. UVB Rays penetrate the epidermis, the outer layer of the skin, stimulate melanin and can result in freckles, mottled and uneven complexion as well as redness and sunburn.


UVC is the shortest rays and is absorbed by the ozone layer. Most of them generally do not reach the earth. However, as the ozone breaks down, this problem will become worse.



What is SPF?

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. It is a measure of sunscreen’s ability to prevent UV rays from damaging the skin.

What does it mean by SPF 15, SPF 30, SPF 50?

Here is a simple answer: if it takes 10 minutes for your skin to turn red when you are out in the sun, with SPF 50 you can stay out in the skin 50 times longer before your skin begins to burn.

Different Types of Sunscreen


According to British Association of Dermatologists ‘Sunscreen Fact Sheets’, “although the SPF is more accurately the sunburn protection factor, as it primarily shows the level of protection against UVB, not the protection against UVA.

Therefore, when you are looking for a sunscreen, it is important that you go for the broad-spectrum products which will not only protect you from sunburn, but also the main UV Rays that cause ageing.

Chemical Sunscreen v.s Physical Sunscreen:

There are big differences between Chemical Sunscreens and Physical Sunscreens: how they work, how effective they are, and how they affect the skin, especially for people with pigmentation concerns. We will explain all these in detail in the next blog.

In Summary:

In addition to accelerating ageing process, all UV exposure can suppress the skin’s immune system and increase the risk of skin cancer. So it is imperative that your daily skincare regime include a broad-spectrum sunscreen to block damage from both UVA and UVB rays as well as potent antioxidants to protect against free radical damage.


Looking for Personalised Skincare Advice?

Call 01277 633907 to book a No Fee No Obligation skin consultation! We will assess your skin condition and provide you with professional advice on how to look after your skin. Your therapist will also answer any questions you may have.