Radiation and its effect on our skin

What is the effect of solar radiation on our skin?

To better understand the importance of sunscreen, we will take you back to the beginning. After all, how harmful can sunlight really be? Radiation consists of a broad spectrum of light. This spectrum contains light that we can see: red, green, blue and yellow light. In addition, it also contains light that we cannot see, but which does have an effect on our body. Examples include the UVA, UVB and infrared. What about these invisible types of light and their effect on our skin?


licht spectrum effect straling op huid

Wrinkles are caused by UVA radiation

Sunlight consists of UVA and UVB radiation. Remembering the damage that radiation causes, UVA is responsible for ‘ageing’, this form of radiation causes skin ageing and wrinkles. What many people do not know is that the UVA accounts for 95% of solar radiation, and that this radiation is present in the sunlight throughout the day. So, it doesn’t matter if it is sunny or the hottest part of the day, this radiation is present as soon as daylight appears. This radiation penetrates the deepest into our skin, so it can cause damage to our deeper skin layers. We often see this damage in pigment marks.

Burning from UVB radiation

UVB on the other hand, has peak times and is strongest between 11:00 and 15:00. This radiation causes sunburn and as a result is limited to penetrating the upper layer of the skin. The UVB radiation is responsible for the burning of the skin. UVB actually causes small breaks in our DNA chain, which in turn disrupt the genes of our skin cells. If our cells are disrupted, it may be that this is a weak point in our immune system and that the cells have the freedom not to develop properly. This often results in the development of a form of skin cancer.

The effect of LED light

Afbeelding invloed straling op de huid

Nowadays, we have an additional harmful radiation, that is blue light. This radiation is often called HEV on the internet, which stands for High Energy Visible light. Or light with a high dose of energy. This radiation is found not only in our daylight, but also in LED light. This means that our telephone, laptop, tablet and television screens produce this form of radiation. How harmful this radiation remains unknown. However, it is already known that this radiation can penetrate deep into our skin.

Influence of infrared radiation

The last type of radiation that affects our skin is infrared. This radiation causes activation of an enzyme (the MMP-1 enzyme) in the skin[1]. If the enzyme is activated, it will have an adverse effect on our collagen. The enzyme inhibits collagen or can even break down the collagen.

What is a UV index?

Weather forecasts often refer to a UV index, but what does this mean?
This is the amount of ultraviolet radiation in the sunlight that reaches our Earth. This value is expressed in a scale from 1 to 8. This radiation depends on a number of factors. Clouds, the time of year, the thickness of the ozone layer and the degree of reflection (e.g. from snow or water) are natural protectors or enhancers of sunlight.

Do you want to know how strong the sun is today? Visit https://www.knmi.nl/nederland-nu/weer/waarschuwingen-en-verwachtingen/zonkracht

The level of the UV index affects how easily our skin will burn. The higher the UV index, the stronger the radiation and the faster you burn. This means that on a day with a high index, you will have to apply sunscreen more quickly and avoid the sun when it is at its strongest.

In the next blog, we will tell you more about the different sunscreens and what is important when finding the right one.Want to know more about how best to deal with radiation on your skin? We are here to help.

[1] GretherBeck, S., Marini, A., Jaenicke, T. and Krutmann, J. (2015), Effective Photoprotection of Human Skin against Infrared A Radiation by Topically Applied Antioxidants: Results from a Vehicle Controlled, DoubleBlind, Randomized Study. Photochem Photobiol, 91: 248-250. doi:10.1111/php.12375

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