The Earth’s atmosphere does a pretty good job protecting us from harmful UV (ultraviolet) rays from the sun, but it doesn’t completely block them out. Most UV radiation is absorbed by the ozone layer. But the question is, how harmful are the UV rays to us? This is where the UV index comes in.
The UV index was developed in the 90s by Canadian scientists and measures the solar UV radiation at the Earth’s surface in terms of potential damage to the skin and the eye. The index is compiled daily using factors like ozone concentration in the atmosphere, expected cloud cove and the elevation of a certain point above sea level. A bright, hot, sunny day can easily cause the UV index to soar above 10.
To protect yourself against UVA, it is best to wear clothing that covers our skin lightly, a wide brimmed hat and sunglasses that protect the eyes. If your eyes have ever hurt after looking at snow on a sunny day, that painful condition is directly caused by UV rays reflecting off of the white eye surface. Just remember that clothing and hats don’t deflect all UV rays – that’s where sunscreen comes in. We do have a range of SPF products available to purchase via our online shop.
You are able to check what the UV index is on a smartphone weather app, or alternatively you can use Google.
Exposure to the sun’s UV rays can cause damage to the skin and can even lead to skin cancer – even when it’s not particularly hot outside, or it’s cloudy. Sun exposure and tanning can also cause premature ageing due to the effect of UV radiation on the skin’s collagen and melanin levels.
Some exposure to the sun can be helpful for acne and provides Vitamin D which allows the body to absorb calcium and phosphorus from food. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends at least 10 to 15 minutes of sun exposure (without sunscreen) daily between March and October, from 11am to 3pm. Darker skin tones actually need to spend more time in the sun than this to achieve the same benefit. For longer periods, it is important to wear broad spectrum sunscreen.