Beauty glossary

What Are UV Rays?

Put simply: UV Rays are the enemy. In fact, they are public enemy number one, when it comes to keeping your youthful skin exactly that – youthful. To break it down, Ultraviolet (UV) rays are a type of energy produced by the sun, and some other artificial sources, like sunbeds. The main cause of skin cancer, they are also to blame for sunburn, eye damage, and premature aging.

What Do UV Rays Do?

Just to complicate things, there are two main types of UV rays: UVB and UVA. UVB rays are the culprits behind sunburn, skin discoloration (aka dreaded sunspots) and redness – they can also contribute to skin cancer.

UVA rays are considered the more dangerous of the two, as they can penetrate the skin much more deeply. Responsible for long-term skin damage (like lines, deep wrinkles and diminished collagen) they’re also the main cause of certain skin cancers. And, because UVA rays are not linked to the sun’s brightness or heat, you can’t detect them and won’t know that damage is being done until it’s too late. It’s important to remember, these damaging rays can pass through glass and clouds, so just because it isn’t sunny, doesn’t mean your skin is safe.

How To Protect Your Skin Against UV Rays

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: SPF is your best friend. Best as in Serena and Blair, Meredith and Christina, Thelma and Louise – you get the picture. It’s the one thing you need to apply every single day, come rain or shine. And don’t forget the last bit – even if it’s gray and drizzly, you need to SPF up. Why? Because 90% of how well your skin ages depends on sun exposure – and ultimately, that buck stops with you.

We suggest applying sunscreen to your face, neck, ears, and hands each morning, at least 20 minutes before heading outside – and don’t forget to use lip balm with SPF to protect your pout. If you’re planning a trip to the beach, park or mountains (anywhere outdoors), you need to re-apply at least once every two hours (check out these SPFs that allow you to reapply on top of makeup). Now for the tricky bit – how much do you use? Derms recommend applying a finger-sized dollop for an area the size of your hand (yeah, we weren’t using enough either).

On to the basics: the higher the SPF (sun protection factor), the stronger the protection – we recommend SPF 30 minimum. When choosing a sunscreen, always look for one with a 4-5 star UVA rating, because SPF doesn’t protect you from UVA rays. And, just like everything, SPF has a use-by date, so check the ‘open jar’ symbol on the back of your bottle – the number inside indicates how many months you have to use it.

Our Fave UV Ray Defence Skincare Products:

UV rays protection

Elta MD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 Moisturizing Facial Sunscreen, $25: A derm dream, this mineral-based sunscreen protects even the most sensitive skin from UVA and UVB rays. Plus, it’s chock-full of hard-working ingredients, like niacinamide, lactic acid, and hyaluronic acid.

UV rays protection

Thank You Farmer Sun Project Water Sun Cream SPF50+ PA+++, $23: K-Beauty at its best, this botanical-rich sunscreen is tough on sun but easy on skin, thanks to its amazing list of super hydrating and soothing ingredients. It wears amazingly under makeup and melts into the skin easily,

UV rays protection

The Inkey List, Zinc Oxide Cream Moisturiser, $12: Enriched with SPF 50, this zinc oxide-infused lightweight formula acts like your skin’s very own personal bodyguard – keeping out harmful UVA and UVB rays while offering up serious hydration.