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Sun Safety and How Colours Work

Sun Safety and How Colours Work

Objects absorb some wavelengths of light and reflect others. Those absorbed we don’t see, and those reflected back we do see (with the exception of infrared and ultraviolet). 

The visible light spectrum is those that the human eye can perceive, ranging from violet to red. Violet has the shortest wavelength and red has the longest. 

Wavelength is the distance between two waves. Light waves are made up of particles called photons. Photons are packets of energy that make up electromagnetic radiation, including visible light.

Infrared has a longer wavelength than red, and ultraviolet has a shorter wavelength than violet.

Cones are photoreceptor cells in the retina of the eye that are responsible for colour vision. There are three types of cones, each sensitive to different wavelengths of light: red, green, and blue. When light enters the eye and stimulates these cones, they send signals to the brain, which then processes the information and allows us to see colours.

Some birds and fish can see ultraviolet light because they have an additional type of cone in their eyes that is sensitive to ultraviolet wavelengths. This allows them to see a wider range of colours than humans, including ultraviolet light, which is invisible to us.

What is UV Radiation?

UV radiation is a type of electromagnetic radiation that comes from the sun. It is divided into three main categories based on their wavelengths: UVA, UVB, and UVC.

  • UVA radiation has the longest wavelength, ranging from 320 to 400 nanometers. It can penetrate deep into the skin and is associated with skin ageing and wrinkling.
  • UVB radiation has a medium wavelength, ranging from 280 to 320 nanometers. It primarily affects the outer layer of the skin and is the main cause of sunburn and skin cancer.
  • UVC radiation has the shortest wavelength, ranging from 100 to 280 nanometers. It is the most harmful type of UV radiation, but fortunately, it is mostly absorbed by the Earth’s ozone layer and does not reach the surface in significant amounts.


Sunscreen primarily blocks UVA and UVB rays, which are the most common types of UV radiation that can harm your skin. UVC rays are mostly absorbed by the Earth’s atmosphere and typically do not reach the surface, so sunscreen is not designed to specifically block them.

Not wearing sunscreen can increase your risk of developing skin cancer, including melanoma, which is the most serious type of skin cancer. Sun exposure without protection can also lead to premature ageing of the skin, such as wrinkles, dark spots, and sagging. Additionally, sunburns can be painful and increase the risk of developing other skin conditions. It’s important to protect your skin by wearing sunscreen, seeking shade, and wearing protective clothing when spending time outdoors.


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