UVC rays sound intense: They’re the sun’s highest energy rays that kick out the shortest wavelength, meaning they have the power to damage DNA. But, before you start looking for sunscreen with UVC blockers or absorbers, consider that most UVC is absorbed by the ozone layer and never reaches the earth’s surface. And, even though there are holes in the ozone (though its depletion has recovered a bit from reaching its peak 5% loss in the early ‘90s, there is still a 3.5% average loss around the globe, according to a 2010 United Nations Environment Programme report), the ozone still does a pretty good job of screening nearly all UVC radiation before reaching ground level and preventing the UV radiation from sterilizing the earth’s surface.
Additionally, organizations like the EPA and Skin Cancer Foundation agree that most UVC is absorbed by the ozone layer and does not hit earth. With this in mind, Dr. Jeffrey M. Weinberg, a dermatologist at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center and Associate Clinical Professor of Dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, concurs that since all UVC should be absorbed by the ozone, any products that claim UVC protection are engaging in marketing hype.
The best skin protection against the sun’s harmful rays? Go for broad-spectrum protection that blocks or absorbs the harmful UVA and UVB rays that actually do extend down to our planet.
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