UVA and UVB Rays: What's the difference?

Australians have one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, with two in three Australians developing some form of skin cancer before they reach the age of 70-years-old.



Young woman smiling in the sun


This makes sun protection very important for all Australians, all year round. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun can cause sunburn, skin damage, eye damage, premature skin ageing and cancer.


But there are two types of UV radiation from the sun, UVA and UVB. What is the difference between them?

UVB - B is for Burning

  • Holds heat
  • Can feel the heat on your skin
  • Causes sunburn
  • Most dangerous/strongest when the sun is high in the sky between 11am-3pm
  • Stronger in summer than winter
  • Has a larger wavelength, it is only able to penetrate the epidermal layers

UVA - A is for Ageing

  • It does not hold heat
  • Can not feel it on the skin
  • Does not cause sunburn, which means it is hard to know if we have had too much sun exposure
  • UVA is the same strength all day - sunrise to sunset
  • UVA strength is constant all year round, summer and winter - whether it's cloudy, rainy or sunny
  • UVA has a shorter wavelength, which enables radiation to penetrate the dermal layers of the skin - our deepest layers, causing this radiation to break down our collagen and elastin fibres causing premature ageing skin.

All Australians need at least an SPF30+ with UVA and UVB protection all year round (yes, even in winter when the weather is grey and cloudy). You should also keep in mind that you need to reapply your sunscreen every two hours.

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About The Author

My name is Sari Pols, I have been in the beauty industry for over 15 years. My passion lies in ‘Health’. Health for the skin and body. My philosophy is if we have a good well-being on the inside, then it shows our vitality on the outside. I have furthered my knowledge in Skin Anatomy, Skin Concerns and Fitness. I am a true believer in how to make my clients feel their best both inside and out. My emphasis is on guiding my clients through their personal journey of skin concerns and conditions. I do not like to bandaid a concern or condition but want to get down to the root of the cause. I aim to give personalised consultations with treatment and correct prescribed skin products.

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