How many levels of UV radiation require sunscreen protection?

Sunscreen is a topic that always seems to be an integral part of our skincare discussions. But what exactly does sunscreen protect us from? Is it just the temperature? The higher the temperature, the stronger the UV rays, and the more comprehensive our sun protection efforts should be, right? In fact, it’s not quite that simple. Sunscreen is all about protecting us from ultraviolet (UV) rays.

UV rays are actually a type of electromagnetic wave naturally present in the environment, with a vacuum wavelength ranging from violet light (about 7200 angstroms) to X-rays (with a lower limit of about 50 angstroms). The wavelength and intensity of UV rays are the most direct factors that determine whether we need sun protection. Speaking of this, I remember that many people have discussed whether we don’t need sun protection when the UV index is at level 1.

In reality, this is a misconception. A UV index of 1 means that the wavelength of the UV rays being received is not very significant, but it doesn’t mean there is zero harm to our bodies. Furthermore, the purpose of sun protection is not just about preventing your skin from getting darker; it’s also about preventing premature aging. UV index 1 may not easily darken your skin, and melanin concentration might not be significantly increased, preventing the development of spots, but it can still accelerate skin aging.

Today, I want to discuss with you the correct way to protect yourself from different UV index levels.

0-2 UV Index

UV indexes of 0-2 mostly occur during rainy and cloudy days when sunlight is weak. The UV index drops to 0 during the night. In such weather, you don’t need to worry about sunburn. Simply wearing sun-protective clothing is sufficient. These clothes can also protect you from rain and wind during rainy days.

3-4 UV Index

When the UV index is 3-4, the weather is typically partly cloudy, so it’s sunny but not excessively hot. The UV rays are relatively mild, and you won’t feel intense heat during short periods spent outdoors. Applying sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or lower is sufficient to protect against UV rays.

5-6 UV Index

UV indexes of 5-6 require more attention to sun protection. This typically occurs on clear, sunny days, and prolonged outdoor exposure can harm your skin. You should minimize outdoor activities, apply sunscreen with higher SPF, and wear sun-protective clothing and hats.

7-9 UV Index

When the UV index reaches 7-9, you should be cautious, as the weather is hot. Even short exposure of about 20 minutes can lead to sunburn, melanin accumulation, and other skin issues. Use sunscreen with a higher SPF, wear sun-protective clothing, and avoid outdoor activities as much as possible, especially between 0:00 and 14:00.

UV Index 10 and Above

UV indexes of 10 and above require full protection with a combination of physical and chemical sunscreen methods. It’s essential to take immediate and thorough sun protection measures, and avoid unnecessary outdoor activities.

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