If you’re just starting your tanning journey, one thing you need to understand is UVA vs UVB rays. These two rays are the main sources artificially found in a tanning bed. Knowing the difference will not only help you achieve the perfect sun-kissed skin faster but also protect you from potential effects that could damage your skin.
UVA vs UVB Rays | A Tanning Debate
UVA and UVB Definition
UV or ultraviolet rays fall under three classifications. The first two are UVA or ultraviolet A and UVB or ultraviolet B. One obvious difference is the wavelengths, with UVA the longest at 320-400 nanometers (or billionths of a meter) to UVB ranging from 290 to 320 nm. The other classification is called UVC, but thankfully, these get absorbed first by the ozone layer.
UVA and UVB rays both penetrate the atmosphere. Due to its length, there are around 500 times more UVA rays in the sunlight as compared to UVB rays. Once it reaches the skin, they both produce melanocytes, in turn, produces melanin, the color you need to create that sun-kissed skin.
UVA and UVB play different roles when it comes to tanning. Tanning beginners should first start with UVB rays, which are considered building rays. These short-wave rays help build a base tan, which will help keep your skin from burning while under the sun or tanning bed. 10-12 minute tanning beds usually have UVB rays.
Once you achieve your base tan, you then need to be exposed to UVA rays. UVA rays are considered bronzing rays, as they help develop the type of bronze tan you want to achieve. You can go golden to dark bronze with UVB rays, depending on your preference. UVA rays are quite strong, so do limit your exposure and practice pre- and post-tanning tips to minimize skin damage.
Prolonged exposure to either one of the UV rays could cause skin and health problems. UVA penetrates deep into your skin’s thickest layer, the dermis, and could cause premature skin aging, wrinkling to immune system suppression. UVB rays, on the other hand, will burn the first layers of your skin, causing that dreaded sunburn. Over time, UVB rays could help develop skin cancer.
Getting a tan under the sun may not be a reliable way to get that bronze skin color you want. The intensity of the rays coming from the sun cannot be controlled. Moreover, the season could also reduce or increase the effects of the UV rays. As such, tanning regulars maintain their bronze skin mostly in tanning salons.
Combination In Tanning Beds
Majority of tanning salons now offer tanning beds and lamps that emit both UVA and UVB rays. These beds and lamps emit a combination of 93 to almost 99 % UVA rays and 7 to 1 % UVB rays.
Which One’s Faster?
Most people prefer to use a tanning bed or lamp to get that sun-kissed glow because it is much faster. Before jumping on a tanning bed or getting exposed with the lamp, do slap on an indoor tanning lotion. Your indoor tanning lotion should have enough sun protection factor (SPF) to cover the amount of time you’ll spend in the tanning bed or under a lamp.
Watch this skin guide on UVA vs UVB rays by Howcast below:
Having an understanding of UVA and UVB rays will definitely help you on your tanning journey. Beyond that, your knowledge about these UV rays will help mitigate the harmful effects of it to your skin and your health. After all, you don’t want to risk your life for the sake of beauty.
Anything to add to our UVA and UVB debate? Share it with us in the comments section below!