What Does UV Really Stand For? And Other Questions About UV Protection

Written by H. Fishman on January 8, 2013

Here at JoeShade we’re always talking about “UV protection” this and “harmful UV rays” that, but we’ve never taken the time to explain all things “UV” to our audience. I hope you’ll bear with me as I get scientific for a few minutes as I look at a few common questions about UV rays!

What does UV stand for?

We're always talking about "UV protection" this and "harmful UV rays" that, so now we're answering common questions about the sun's UV rays!!

We’re always talking about “UV protection” this and “harmful UV rays” that, so now we’re answering common questions about everything “UV”!


What are UV rays?

Scientifically speaking, UV rays are a form of light. They’re invisible to the human eye because they have a shorter wavelength than visible light. Remember Roy G. Biv from your high school science class? Violet has the shortest wavelength of those seven visible colors; “ultraviolet” is light that’s past the color violet on the spectrum. One of the many reasons we know about UV rays is because of the effects we see on our skin – i.e., suntan and sunburn. That’s because sunlight is the main source of our exposure to UV rays, but it’s not the only one. In today’s day and age, other sources can include devices such as tanning beds and tanning lamps.

Are all UV rays bad for you?

This may surprise you, but the answer is not a definitive yes! There are three different types of UV rays:

  • UVA rays, which are the same strength year-round.
  • UVB rays, which vary in intensity depending on the time of year.
  • UVC rays, which don’t get through our atmosphere and aren’t a concern.

But, the main concerns in terms of sun damage are UVA and UVB rays. Both are known to age cells, cause skin damage, and lead to the development of skin cancer. However, while UVB rays cause tanning and burning quicker, they are also thought to have beneficial effects on your body – for example, by stimulating the creation of Vitamin D, an important nutrient that your body needs to keep healthy. Now, before you start freaking out that you’re getting bombarded with UV rays year-round, keep in mind that the amount of exposure you get depends on a lot of things, such as:

  • The strength of the rays (i.e., how brightly and directly the sun is shining on you)
  • How long you’re directly exposed to the sun
  • Whether you’re protected with clothing, shade, and/or sunscreen

What is this UV Index my weatherman keeps referring to?

Simply put, the UV index is a scale of 1 to 11+ that’s used to measure the strength of the UV rays reaching the ground during an hour or so around noon. Higher numbers mean a greater exposure to UV rays and a greater chance of sunburn and skin damage. The UV Index is a number calculated by the National Weather Service and the Environmental Protection Agency. Most people have seen it mentioned in their local newspapers, television and online weather forecasts. Different areas have different UV indexes, as the amount of light reaching the ground in a given place depends on a number of things, such as:

  • Time of day
  • Time of year
  • Elevation
  • Cloud cover

Even when taking these factors into account, the UV Index is generally strongest for roughly a few hours before and after noon – basically, when the sun is highest in the sky. That’s why most people at the beach over the summer head indoors at lunch time – not only for a good meal, but also to take a break when the sun is strongest!

How can I stay safe from UV protection?

When you want to be outdoors but also safe from the sun’s harmful UV rays, our portable sun shade umbrella, JoeShade, with UV sun protection is the perfect solution! All it takes to help your avoid sun damage to your skin is being a bit more conscientious about getting proper sun shade – especially with products that have high UV sun shade protection, like our shade umbrella. The JoeShade portable umbrella is unique in its sun safety features. Our umbrellas are made with a special fabric specifically designed to block harmful UV rays. Easy to carry wherever you go, and even easier to set up, JoeShade is great for sports fans, campers, tailgaters, and anyone that wants to maintain healthy skin.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my little science lesson. Stay safe out there!

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