Ever taken refuge in the shade to hide from the summer sun, just to get burned anyway? Well, turns out there’s a good reason why you can tan in the shade (and burn). And it has everything to do with UVA rays.

After what felt like months of getting every season’s weather except summer, the UK finally has some sun. And there’s no doubt it’s been refreshing to have a break from the grey skies and rain. Although, in this country you know you’re always running on borrowed time.

But either way, the return of the UK’s brief annual heatwave – thanks, climate change – is the perfect time to make a local holiday out of it. Whether you’re more of a beside the seaside holidayer, or a let’s go hiking holidayer, you need to make sure you arrive prepared.

It can be easy, in the country known for its terrible weather, to completely forget about sun cream. However, not only should you be lathering up when you’re soaking up some rays, but also when you’re sheltering in the shade. Contrary to what many might expect, you can actually catch a tan in the shade. Which means, yep, you can also get sunburnt in the shade.

Wait, you can tan in the shade? | UVA rays and their impact

 “How on earth can you catch a tan in the shade?” I hear you ask. Well, firstly, it’s important to explain why we actually tan.

When your skin is exposed to the UVA rays of the sun, it triggers our skin to produce melanin, which is the pigment that when activated gradually develops into a tan. Something it does to protect our skin. These tanning-rays aren’t to be confused with UVB rays, which are the ones that cause sunburn.

But while the UVA rays don’t necessarily cause sunburn, that doesn’t mean they’re not harmful, particularly as the UVA rays actually penetrate below the surface of our skin.

And this is where shade-induced tans come in. Yes, you’re more likely to be exposed to those tanning rays when you’re in direct sunlight. However, even when you’re sat in the shade, UVA rays can still reach you if they’re reflected onto you.

This means that your skin can technically be exposed to UVA rays anywhere, even in snow. Which also means that you should really be wearing sun cream most of the time, if you’re wanting to fend off any sunburn or skin damage.

Ideally, you should be wearing a sun cream that protects from both UVA and UVB rays. And no, this won’t stop you getting a tan, it just mitigates their potentially harmful impact. And trust us, it’s worth it to avoid a dependency on after-sun down the line. Who would’ve thought, eh?

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