Your skin is profoundly affected by sunlight.
Sun exposure can easily cause sunburns and contributes to the development of skin sagging, wrinkles, fine lines, and, worst of all, skin cancer. Even when the sun gives you a nice-looking tan, that tanning is a reaction to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays damaging and killing your skin cells.
Wearing sunscreen is an essential way to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays and reduce your risk of developing skin cancer.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of misconceptions and misunderstandings about sun exposure and sunscreen usage.
What is the Difference Between UVA and UVB?
There are two types of ultraviolet radiation that come from the sun and affect our skin: UVA and UVB.
- UVA rays are longer and can penetrate deep into the skin. These rays contribute to the signs we associate with premature aging, like wrinkles, fine lines, and age spots.
- UVB rays are shorter but more energized and only affect the outermost layers of skin. These are the rays that cause sunburns.
Both types of rays cause skin damage and can contribute to the development of skin cancer.
Why Should I Wear Sunscreen Indoors?
When indoors, the windows will block out most of the UVB rays but not the UVA ones.
So if you are sitting near a window or in a room that gets a lot of direct sunlight, you might not get a sunburn, but you are still being exposed to harmful UVA rays.
If you are inside a room without direct sunlight, the risk of sun damage may be relatively low. But if you spend any amount of time in an area that gets direct sunlight, you should wear sunscreen.
Does it Matter What Sunscreen I Use?
Some sunscreens only protect against UVB, so make sure to select one that is labeled as “Broad Spectrum” or “UVA/UVB” to ensure you are getting protection against both types of harmful rays.
It is generally recommended that you use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. But be aware that the SPF, or Sun Protection Factor, is a measure of how well the sunscreen will protect your skin from UVB rays, so it is not exactly a measure of how well it will protect your skin from UVA rays indoors. Still, it is probably a good idea to always use SPF 30+ in case you are spending time outdoors later in the day.