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Wellness Center San Antonio
Medical Spa San Antonio

4499 Medical Drive #225, San Antonio, Texas 78229  210.616.0836






"The Dark Side of the Sun"


All life on earth depends on the light reaching us from the sun.  Photosynthesis harnesses the sun's light (remember Chlorophyll?) and produces glucose in the plants which are then eaten by animals and since we are animals we are here because of the Sun.  Sunlight keeps us warm.  And we need sunlight to help make Vitamin D.  And it keeps us from getting sad as in Seasonal Affective Disorder.  And it give us Rainbows.   And we don't stumble over things in the day because we can see them.   So faaaar so goooood.....  What's the catch? 

Lets start at the beginning.

The Electromagnetic Spectrum

The Problem:   The "Dark Side of the Sun"  UV and Infrared Radiation and Our Skin.

The Solution:   Avoidance, Prevention, Protection and Correction

The Skin Cancer Foundation - Skin Cancer Facts

New Rating for Sunscreens and Sunblocks on the Way

The UV Index

Artificial Tanning,  Sun Tanning Beds and Products

Eye Protection

Other Links, Official agencies, Neat Products, Protective Clothing etc


The Electromagnetic Spectrum

The Sun emits many wavelengths of the Electromagnetic Spectrum.  Remember your Physics Class?  Here are a couple of diagrams to remind you.  These Electromagnetic Waves vary greatly in their wavelengths and their energies.  It turns out that our atmosphere blocks out a lot of the deadliest of these waves because of that neat Ozone layer. It is especially good that it stops the gamma and xrays or we would be vaporized like in Star Trek.  Radioactive elements also emit  Xrays and gamma rays and these are both helpful and potentially harmful.  Remember Chernobyl Disaster?


Only 3 of these wavelengths have significance for us however, the Ultraviolet, Visible and Infrared parts of the Spectrum. 

Most of the Sunlight that reaches the Earth is in the Visible and Infrared regions.

Spectrum of UV and visible light showing UVC, UVB and UVA at the short wavelength (blue) end of the visible spectrum


Visible Light wavelengths, 400-700nm, reach the earth and bounce off objects. Our retinas can sense this reflection and we can distinguish colors.  This kind of light is totally harmless and is what our Intense Pulsed Light device emits.  Visible light, especially the Blue and Red wavelength, is the light that is used in Photosynthesis (Marijuana growers understand all this). (See Article).

The Infrared  wavelengths, 750nm-1mm that reaches the Earth causes 49% of the heating of the Earth, the rest is from the Visible light.  It is divided into IR-A, IR-B and IR-C.  As can be seen from the diagram above IR-A penetrates deeper than even UVA.  It has been shown that IR-A produces it's damage by production of Free Radicals and activation of enzymes (Metalloproteinase, MMP) that break up and damage collagen and elastin.  Visible and Infrared light is absorbed by the land and water and and us and warms up the earth and as long as we don't get too warm because of trapped heat (Greenhouse effect) we're gonna be OK except for the damage to our Dermal Collagen and Elastin.

 Infrared Saunas use heaters that emit Infrared radiation that warms the Sauna air, our bodies and/or stones.

 Ultraviolet or UV rays (Ultra = above Violet) also reach the earth and the rest of this article deals with how UV and Infrared rays cause mischief with our skin.

The UV region covers the wavelength range 100-400 nm and is divided into three bands:  98.7% of the UV radiation that reaches the Earth's surface s UVA.

  • UVA (315-400 nm), long wave, or Black Light, not blocked by Ozone layer, Most reaches the earth and penetrates skin deeply (Dermis). 98.7% of the UV radiation that reaches the Earth's surface is UVA.
  • UVB (280-315 nm), medium wave,  mostly blocked by Ozone layer, penetrates thin layer (Epidermis) of skin.  SPF refers to protection against UVB.  UVB is required to produce Vitamin D in our Skin, but this effect only occurs when the angle of the sun is greater than 50 degrees to the earth.  You can see why Vitamin D deficiencies are so common as many far northern and southern latitudes get little UV-B penetration so we don't get Vitamin D production.  Go to the Solar Elevation Angle page and you can calculate when in the year and at what time the sun is greater than a 50 degree angle for your location. It will usually only be in the middle of the day and in some locations it is never greater than 50 degrees. And remember on a cloudy day we don't get any UVB, and if you wear clothes or sunscreen or you are elderly you don't produce Vitamin D either.   See UVB Radiation Definition and Characteristics from Colorado State University.
  • A: Circulating concentrations of vitamin D3 after a single exposure to 1 MED of simulated sunlight, with a sunscreen (SPF 8) or a topical placebo cream. B: Circulating concentrations of vitamin D in response to whole-body exposure to 1 MED among healthy young and elderly subjects.
  • A: Changes in serum concentrations of vitamin D among 2 lightly pigmented white subjects (skin type II) (A) and 3 heavily pigmented black subjects (skin type V) (B) after total-body exposure to UVB radiation (54 mJ/cm2). C: Serial changes in circulating vitamin D concentrations after reexposure of one black subject in B to a 320 mJ/cm2 dose of UVB radiation.
  • UVC (100-280 nm), short wave,  blocked by Ozone layer, very deadly, used to kill bacteria (Germicidal) as in Ultraviolet Germicidal Radiation.  See SteriShoe, uses UVC to kill germs that cause foot odor and possibly infections.

The Problem: The "Dark Side of the Sun"  UV  & Infrared Radiation and Our Skin.

UVA and Infrared IR-A rays cause aging of the skin because they penetrate into the dermis and create free radicals and activate enzymes which damage our Collagen and this leads to wrinkles and UVA & IR-A alters our Elastin which leads to more sagging (Gravity is also a Factor) and all this makes us look old and our skin can start to look like leather and kids on the beach stick their tongues out at us.

 The UVB rays are the burning rays of the sun and are the primary cause of sunburn and skin cancers and UVB suppresses the immune system which leads to things like cold sores and cancers and cataracts.  Humans vary >100 fold in their sensitivity to the harmful effects of UV Radiation.  Those who have organ transplants and are on immunosuppressive drugs have a marked increase in skin cancers and this is worsened considerably by sun exposure. In some people, immune suppression occurs very rapidly making them more likely to develop skin cancer.  As the Ozone layer is depleted, the amount of UVB reaching the Earth will increase, thus making protection from UVB more important.  Severe Sunburns as adolescents markedly increase the likelihood of skin cancers later in life. People with more pigment in their skin have less skin cancer because the pigment (Melanin) blocks some of the rays from reaching the living cells of the skin and prevents the DNA from being damaged.  Tanning of the skin is therefore a protective mechanism to protect against UV Rays.

 UVA rays also cause some skin cancer, primarily Melanoma, and a little burning and  tanning too (See Tanning Beds) but UVA and IR-A are the primary rays which play a role in premature aging, characterized by wrinkles, sun damage, freckles, and skin sagging with the loss of elasticity.  Unfortunately,  there are approximately 500 times more UVA rays in sunlight than UVB rays which is reaching our skin and a lot more of the IR-A.  You are continually exposed to harmful UVA  rays even in the winter, on a cloudy day, or sitting next to a window or in your car.  The effect of UVA and IR-A on our skin is "real time" with immediate production of free radicals and activation of enzymes which breakdown our Collagen and alter our Elastin.   98.7% of the UV radiation that reaches the Earth's surface s UVA.

For details of all this refer these other references.

Pathophysiology of Premature Skin Aging Induced by Ultraviolet Light  Fisher, E et al  NEJM 1997

Skin cancers after organ transplantation.  Euvrard S  N Engl J Med. 2003 Apr 24;348(17):1681-91.

Immunosuppression, skin cancer, and ultraviolet A radiation.  Parrish JA. N Engl J Med. 2005 Dec 22;353(25):2712-3.

The influence of painful sunburns and lifetime sun exposure on the risk of actinic keratoses, seborrheic warts, melanocytic nevi, atypical nevi, and skin cancer.  Kennedy C et al J Invest Dermatol. 2003 Jun;120(6):1087-93.

The genetics of sun sensitivity in humans.  Rees JL Am J Hum Genet. 2004 Nov;75(5):739-51. Epub 2004 Sep 15.

Sensitivity to Sunburn Is Associated with Susceptibility to Ultraviolet Radiation–Induced Suppression of Cutaneous Cell–Mediated Immunity   Deirdre AK et alJ Exp Med. 2000 February 7; 191(3): 561–566.

Sun Exposure: What Molecular Photodermatology tells Us About It's Good and Bad Side.   Krutman J et al, J. Invest, Derm.2012 132: 976-974

The Other End of the Rainbow: Infrared and Skin   Holzer A et al, J. Invest, Derm. 2010 130: 1496-1499

In case you were wondering,  enzymes called photolyses protect plants from UV Radiation damages otherwise there would be a Plant Dermatologist Specialty.  See Article.

View movie at FDA of the short and long term effects of UV exposure.
(Requires Flash Player - Download now)


YouTube "How The Sun Sees You" Using  a camera which sees only UV light!

Here is the Video of the UV Light Sensitive Camera!







UV Photography Reveals Sun Damage

We can use ultraviolet (UV) photography to show our patients how the sun has damaged the skin. In the following patient photographs, the two photographs on the left in each series were taken in ordinary light and show what is visible to the naked eye. The picture on the right was taken with a UV-light camera and illustrates the amount of damage that lies beneath the surface of the skin.

At age 18 months, sun damage is not yet apparent.


At age 4 years, early sun damage is evident.  Notice the freckling across the nose
and cheeks.


The photograph above shows that this 17-year-old already has significant
sun damage.


This 37-year-old woman has subsurface sun damage, which is clearly visible
in the photo on the right.


At 52, this woman has "prematurely aged" skin in visible light and significantly
sun-damaged skin in ultraviolet light.


This 64-year-old beach community resident has skin that chronicles a lifetime of
chronic sun exposure.  UV photography is not necessary to see that her skin is
dry, inelastic, wrinkled, and heavily mottled.

(Photos provided courtesy of David H. McDaniel, M.D.)

The Solution:   Avoidance,  Prevention, Protection and Correction


The best way to prevent Sun Damage is to avoid deliberate tanning, including use of indoor tanning devices.  Certainly it is important to stay out of the sun between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., when the sun’s rays are the strongest. Go the the Naval Observatory page and you can calculate when in the year and at what time the sun is greater than a 50 degree angle for your location. That is when you get the UVB rays.


Antioxidant Products:  A number of products now carry topical antioxidants which markedly prevent the damaging effect of free radicals produced by UVA and Infrared IR-A radiation.  They also protect against the activation of the MMP enzymes which damage collagen. These are Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Ferrulic Acid, Copper, Green Tea and the newest kid on the block Phloretin.  These products offer almost 100% "real time" protection against the free radical damage caused by UVA and IR-A radiation and even prevent some of the burning and erythema.


Phloretin CF™ 
C E Ferulic®



Sunscreens and Sunblocks:  Sunscreens and sunblocks should be worn year round and even on cloudy days as UVA still penetrates almost 100%.  Sunscreen should be broad spectrum (offers UVA and UVB protection) and have a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. Sunscreen should be applied 20 minutes before going outdoors to all skin that will be exposed. It should be reapplied after sweating or being in water or every 2 hours.


It is important to realize that the SPF of a Product applies only to the UVB protection, not to the UVA protection.  We recommend the SkinCeutical Line of Sun Protection products.  These contain only Zinc and Titanium, no Chemicals.


SkinCeutical Sunscreen and SunBlock Products

Physical Fusion SPF 50  Tinted
Sheer Physical SPF 50


Protective Clothing:  One method of protection we often don't consider is the wearing of protective clothing such as wide-brimmed hat and long sleeves.  A number of companies offer lines of sports wear and other clothing which are designed to offer superior UV protection.   Umbrellas and other items help to shield us such as UV shields on our Car and Home Windows. See Several Links Below.



The above products are effective if used consistently and over a period of time and they should be the cornerstone of your Skin Care Program.  A variety of light and laser procedures are beneficial and can provide fairly however much more rapid resolution of some of the many undesirable changes of photo aging.  These include Intense Pulsed Light,  Home and Medical Dermaroller and Diamond Microdermabrasion. 



Our recommendation: Use Skinceutical CE Ferrulic alternating with Phloretin CF daily along with one of the SkinCeutical SPF 50 Sheer Physical orPhysical Fusion Sunblock Products.


 The Skin Cancer Foundation - Lots of Skin Cancer Facts

The Skin Cancer Foundation


New Rating for Sunscreens and Sunblocks on the Way




Artificial Tanning,  Sun Tanning Beds and Products

Sun tanning From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Tanning bed From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A tanning bed or sunbed is a device emitting ultraviolet radiation (typically 95% UVA and 5% UVB, +/-3%) used to produce a cosmetic tan.  The lower concentration of UVB lessens the chance of a sunburn but there is considerable UVA exposure which causes Melanoma and Photoaging of the skin.




Teenagers and Artificial Tanning

PEDIATRICS Vol. 121 No. 5 May 2008, pp. 1040-1042

Sophie J. Balk, MDa



HEALTH Articles

Promoting  the health benefits of UV rays is "like recommending smoking to reduce stress," said Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, deputy medical director of the American Cancer Society.

Teens, Tans and Truth

Doctors fight back against claims that tanning is healthy. Worries about cancer and 'tanorexics.'

What Is the UV Index Good Description

The ozone layer shields the Earth from harmful UV radiation. Ozone depletion, as well as seasonal and weather variations, causes different amounts of UV radiation to reach the Earth at any given time. The UV Index is a daily forecast at noon of the UV radiation levels people might experience. The Index predicts the next day's levels on a 0 to 11+ scale, helping people determine appropriate sun protection behaviors. 

San Antonio, TX UV Index forecast from

Enter Zip Code to check your location.

UV Index


How is the UV Index Calculated?


Check out the UV Index for your Zip code at

EPA UV Index Scale

11+ Extreme

A UV Index reading of 11+ means extreme risk of harm from unprotected sun exposure. Minimize sun exposure during midday hours, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Apply sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 liberally every 2 hours:

8 to 10: Very High

A UV Index reading of 8 to 10 means very high risk of harm from unprotected sun exposure. Minimize sun exposure during midday hours, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Protect yourself by liberally applying a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. Wear protective clothing and sunglasses to protect the eyes:

6 to 7: High

A UV Index reading of 6 to 7 means high risk of harm from unprotected sun exposure. Apply a sunscreen with a SPF of at least 15. Wear a wide-brim hat and sunglasses to protect your eyes:

3 to 5: Moderate

A UV Index reading of 3 to 5 means moderate risk of harm from unprotected sun exposure

2 or less: Low

A UV Index reading of 2 or less means low danger from the sun's UV rays for the average person:

United States Environmental Protection AgencyUV Index


EPA Sunwise Program.  Calculates UV Index daily for zip codes.




National Weather Service

Climate Prediction Center

NWS logo - Click to go to the NWS home page



National Weather Service UV Index Map Of USA.



Eye Protection

The eyes are affected mostly by the UVB rays, so wear a good pair of sunglasses.

High intensities of UVB light are hazardous to the eyes, and exposure can cause welder's flash (photokeratitis or arc eye) and may lead to cataracts, pterygium, and pinguecula formation.

Protective eyewear is beneficial to those who are working with or those who might be exposed to ultraviolet radiation, particularly short wave UV. Given that light may reach the eye from the sides, full coverage eye protection is usually warranted if there is an increased risk of exposure as in high altitude mountaineering. Mountaineers are exposed to higher than ordinary levels of UV radiation, both because there is less atmospheric filtering and because of reflection from snow and ice.

Ordinary eyeglasses give some protection, and most plastic lenses give more protection than glass lenses. Some plastic lens materials, such as polycarbonate, block most UV. There are protective treatments available for eyeglass lenses that need it to give better protection. Most intraocular lenses help to protect the retina by absorbing UV radiation.

People should wear sunglasses to protect their eyes against ultraviolet rays produced by sunlight in addition to fashion appeal. Exposure to radiation from sunlight has been associated with the development of cataracts, age-related macular degeneration and cancer among other diseases. Few people are aware that macular degeneration is an incurable eye disease and is the leading cause of blindness for those aged 55 and older in the United States.



We Carry or can order these for you!

OveRxCast Polarized Sunglasses
Item Catalog Number:


For those who desire the added benefit of lenses that reduce distracting glare, Life Extension’s new OveRxCast sunglasses come with polarized gray lenses that provide natural color definition with 100% UV protection. Like the SolarShield® sunglasses, OveRxCast polarized sunglasses are designed to be worn over your prescription eyeglasses.



Other Links, Official Agencies, Protective Clothing etc


WHO | The known health effects of UV


Nice review by the WHO on the effects of UV on our bodies.




Sun Safety: Save Your Skin!  FDA Safety Site


Physical Protection Clothing for Sun Protection

This kind of clothing usually blocks 98% of ALL UVA and UVB!!




STINGRAYis the original sun protection clothing company in Australia. The name STINGRAY is synonymous with sun protection awareness and government education about the sun's damaging ultraviolet rays caused by the harsh Australian environment. 




To Prevent Fading of Colors and too much Heat in your Home and Car







Solar Shade Blinds for your Home.

Solar Gard Window Films for your Car and Home.



More Sun Protection Links  from EPA Sunwise Program

For the Kids!   Construct UV Man,   Help your kids learn about UV radiation

Children ages 8–13 construct UV Man! (or woman or dog!) and equip him with special radiation detectors to investigate the source of ultraviolet radiation in this 60 minute activity. They explore how we can protect UV Man! — and ourselves! — from being exposed to too much UV radiation.


To be Complete, The Ultraviolet Rays, Korean Heavy Metal Band, Formed 1985, Now Split up.  Really Bad Wavelength for your Ears.  From Encyclopaedia Metallum, The Metal Archives.




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