The UV Index Explained


You might be tempted to soak up the sun on a nice, bright day. But those warm rays come with health risks. That’s because the sun gives off ultraviolet (UV) radiation.

Too much UV light can your skin in the short term and up your risk for over the long run. The good news is there’s a tool you can use to get a sense of how strong UV rays are in your area complexion, you’re less sensitive to UV exposure in general. Darker skin has more of a pigment called melanin, which helps block UV rays a bit. But the sun can still damage your skin and raise your chances for skin cancer. So, it’s still important to keep an eye on the UV index and wear sunscreen and protective clothes.

If you have lighter skin, you’re more likely to get skin cancer. Check the UV index and be extra careful in the sun if you have:

Is UV Index 1 Safe?

If you have pale, sensitive skin, you can still get burned on a day with a UV index of 1 or 2 if you don’t use sunscreen and cover up while you’re outside.

The amount of UV you’re exposed to depends on more than the strength of the sun’s rays. It also matters how long your skin is exposed to the sun and whether you’re wearing protective clothes and sunscreen.

Is There a ‘Best UV Index’ for Tanning?

There isn’t a best UV index number for tanning, because there’s no safe or healthy way to get a tan. Getting too much UV can lead to sunburns and premature aging. It can also lead to skin cancer, including melanoma, the most serious type.