July is UV Safety Awareness Month, so what better time than now to talk about the impact of UV sun rays on redheads! You know UV rays are bad, you’ve probably heard it a million times throughout your life, but did you know redheads are actually more susceptible to damage from UV rays than those of other hair colors? Here’s a breakdown on why redheads need to be extra mindful:
What are UV rays exactly?
Sunlight that reaches the earth = UV Rays. There are 3 types of UV rays: UVA, UVB and UVC.
UVA rays have the longest wavelengths, followed by UVB, and UVC rays which have the shortest wavelengths. While UVA and UVB rays are transmitted through the atmosphere, all UVC and some UVB rays are absorbed by the Earth’s ozone layer. So, most of the UV rays you come in contact with are UVA with a small amount of UVB.
Interestingly enough, SPF only measures UVB rays; it doesn’t tell you anything about protection from UVA rays. And since we absorb more UVA rays, redheads need to make sure zinc oxide is in their sunscreen bottle. It is the only single active ingredient that offers excellent protection from UVA and UVB rays.
What do UV rays do to the human body?
Exposure to UV rays can do a host of things to your body. One of the most commonly talked about signs of UV damage is visible damage. Visible damage shows up mostly in signs of premature aging such as wrinkles, sun spots, and leathery skin texture. UV rays can also cause damage that is more internal, like eye damage and an increased risk of skin cancer.
Why do redheads need to be more cautious?
Redheads carry a gene called MC1R which is what gives us our beautiful red hair, but the gene is also responsible for other things that happen in our bodies. One of the downsides to MC1R is that your body isn’t able to protect itself against UV rays in the same capacity those without the gene can. This means the harmful impact of UV rays is more intense. Read more here.
How can you prevent UV damage?
There are a number of ways you can protect yourself from UV ray damage. The most effective ways are limiting sun exposure, always wearing broad-spectrum SPF, and covering up when out in the sun. Redheads don’t need to be afraid of the sun, but they do need to be more cautious. You might not think sun damage is a big deal now, but as you get older you will start to see the signs of premature aging. Avoiding sun damage early will help your skin stay youthful and beautiful longer and help your body stay healthy.
Rock it like a Redhead!
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