Shopping Cart

Sun Science

Getting the tan of your dreams while still maintaining the health of your skin might seem impossible - but once you have a better understanding of the science of sun, you can feel confident about the time you spend basking in those glorious rays.

Sun Damage, How to Tan, Healthy Tan

Sunlight

Sunlight is the most common form of UV radiation, and it breaks down to three types of rays: UVA, UVB, and UVC.

UVC rays are absorbed by the earth’s atmosphere, and while UVA and UVB rays both make it to our bodies, they have vastly different effects on the skin.

UVA rays are what we like to call the ‘Aging' rays. These rays have longer wavelengths and as such can penetrate into the deeper layers of your skin where they affect the blood vessels and connective tissues. After prolonged UVA exposure, collagen and elastin (the fibers in your skin that keep it plump and tight) begin to break down, resulting in wrinkles and loss of elasticity.

UVA rays are also responsible for activating the melanin pigment that is already present in your upper skin cells (called keratinocytes) - this results in the tan that you see appear quickly (and often fades just as fast).

UVB rays are what we refer to as the ‘Burning’ rays. These rays have shorter wavelengths and affect the outermost layers of the skin, they stimulate the production of new melanin which leads to a heavy increase in the dark-colored pigment within a few days. This tan may last a relatively long time. UVB rays also stimulate the body to create a thicker outer layer (or epidermis) - exposure to this type of radiation is what triggers the body's natural protective mechanisms, resulting in darker and thicker skin.

Sunburns

Unfortunately, overexposure to UVB rays is also what causes a sunburn - when an excess of UVB rays reach your skin, they damage cells in the epidermis.

In response, your immune system increases blood flow to the affected areas. The increased blood flow is what gives sunburn its characteristic redness and makes the skin feel warm to the touch. At the same time, the damaged skin cells release chemicals that send messages through the body until they are translated as a painful burning sensation by the brain.

White blood cells, which help protect you from infection and disease, attack and remove the damaged skin cells. It is this process of removing damaged cells that can cause the sunburned skin to itch and peel.

Sunburn, UV Protection, Skin Recovery
Best Suntan, Healthy Skin

Tanning

Tanning occurs when UV light triggers the cells responsible for manufacturing your skin's pigment (called melanocytes) to create more pigmented cells (called melanin).

This process is facilitated by the naturally-occurring amino acid tyrosine. These newly pigmented cells migrate to the surface of the skin to protect the nucleus (the center) of the keratinocyte cells, which make up the outer layer of your skin. The resulting appearance is a dark skin color, a.k.a your ‘tan’.

How dark of a tan you can achieve largely depends on your genetic makeup, as those with darker skin tones inherently have more pigment naturally present in their skin, while lighter skin tones have less.

Sources

World Health Organization. (2018). The known health effects of UV.

Available at: http://www.who.int/uv/faq/uvhealtfac/en/

Fda.gov. (2018). Ultraviolet (UV) Radiation. [online] Available at:

https://www.fda.gov/Radiation-EmittingProducts/RadiationEmittingProductsandProcedures/Tanning/ucm116425.htm

Fda.gov. (2018). Ultraviolet (UV) Radiation. [online] Available at:

https://www.fda.gov/Radiation-EmittingProducts/RadiationEmittingProductsandProcedures/Tanning/ucm116425.htm