This is what really happens to your skin when you get a sunburn
Remembering to apply sunscreen should be just as natural as packing your swimsuit for a beach vacation. But sometimes even the most religious of sunscreen re-appliers forget to lather on the good stuff every two hours (the frequency recommended by the American Academy of Dermatology).
We all know what happens when you get a sunburn: depending on how severe it is, the area is hot to touch, sore, and itchy, and eventually a few layers of skin peel off. But what’s going on underneath the skin?
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Skincare brand Dermologica shares that the redness of a sunburn is actually your body’s inflammatory response of dilating blood vessels. When that feeling of tightening skin hits, it’s your body losing moisture. The act of peeling is just your body’s way of getting rid of the damaged skin, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
All bodies are different, and some skip straight to tanner skin after a few days of redness. Others get their tan after a full-on peel. And some people don’t experience any tanning after burning and losing a few layers of skin. For the record, skin becomes tanner due to thickening skin cells and an increase in melanin (another one of your body’s attempts to protect you from the sun).
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Your body is set up to defend against a certain amount of sun exposure, but when you get more UV rays than your body can handle, this is where it gets a little scary.
UV light can penetrate enough skin to actually damage your DNA; this is when more permanent sunburn scars occur (dark spots). When UV rays mess with your DNA, the chance of getting skin cancer increases. And you thought peeling was the scariest part of your burn.
There’s no real way of telling when you hit your body’s limit of “too much sun,” but it’s best to stay protected at all times.
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WebMD breaks down the meaning behind sunscreen SPFs, so read up before your next beach adventure: “An SPF 15 product blocks about 94 percent of UVB rays; an SPF 30 product blocks 97% of UVB rays; and an SPF 45 product blocks about 98% of rays.”
There isn’t a sunscreen currently on the market that blocks 100 percent of the sun’s UVB rays.