The UV index measures the ultraviolet levels in a particular place and time in the world. The UV index scale ranges from 1 to 11 to determine what the UV index is in any area. 

Summertime brings hot days, beach trips, and an important metric called the UV index on the weather report. It turns out, this number isn’t just for weathermen. It’s also important for keeping your family safe in the sun!

If you’re not sure how the UV index affects you, that’s what we’re here for! In this article, Babo Botanicals helps you understand the UV scale so you can use it to protect your family from the sun all year round!

What Is The UV Index Scale?

The World Health Organization (WHO) created the UV index (abbreviated as UVI) in an effort to quantify the levels of UV radiation and the danger of sun exposure. The UV index is a measure of the UV radiation in any given place.

Understanding the UV index helps people know what they need to do in order to protect themselves from the sun’s damaging rays. UV radiation can cause melanoma and other forms of skin cancer, so it’s crucial to take the right steps to protect yourself from the sun, especially when the UV is high.

Going outside without the right sun protection when the UV index is high can be extremely damaging to your skin and eyes. So, before you leave the house, it’s important to check the UV index for the day so you can be well prepared.

The UV index is shown as a number between one and 11+. The higher the number on the UV index scale, the more damaging the sun will be to your skin. This scale is used internationally, so it’s the same on your weather channel in the United States, online, or in your weather app.

When you check the weather forecast, you may see one number listed as the UVI for the day. That number refers to the highest UV radiation of that day, which will usually happen between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm. In other cases, an hourly UVI forecast is given.

Let’s take a look at the numbers on the UV index scale and what they mean.

How Does The UV Index Scale Work?

As we mentioned, the UV index scale goes from zero to 11+. The higher the number the stronger the sun’s rays.

In other words, it’s more dangerous to spend time in the sun without protection when the UVI number is high, and your skin is likely to burn and become damaged more quickly.

That important number is based on the UV radiation from the sun, taking into account several factors that play into UV radiation: clouds, elevation, latitude, weather, the reflection of the sun, the time of year, and more.

For each number or range of numbers, the UVI scale includes appropriate sun protection recommendations. You may also see an estimation of the time it takes to get a sunburn with a given number.

Those recommendations and estimations are based on the fair-skinned people of the world who burn often and tan occasionally. You’ll need to adjust if you have particularly light skin that’s quick to burn.

On the other side of the spectrum, don’t think that you’re off the hook just because you have dark skin. Everyone needs sun protection! Your skin doesn’t have to burn in order to be damaged by the sun.

The same goes for sun protection when it’s cloudy out. UV rays can penetrate through clouds, so it’s just as important to slather on the sunscreen on a cloudy day as it is on a sunny day. While you might not have to take additional precautions when it’s cloudy out, you should always wear sunscreen regardless of the weather.

All that being said, let’s get straight to the numbers so you can understand what the different UV index numbers mean for you.

UVI 1-2 (Low Risk)

With a UV index of one or two, there is a low risk for sunburn and damage. While you should always put on daily sunscreen, this low risk means you can enjoy the outdoors all day with a little extra sun protection.

Even so, it still pays to be sun-smart. Don your sunglasses if it’s a bright day, and use sun protection if you know that you burn at the drop of a hat.

When the UVI is between 1-2, you should do the following to properly protect yourself from the sun:

  • Wear UV-blocking sunglasses
  • Wear sunscreen of at least 30 SPF
  • Avoid reflective surfaces, like sand and water, which can increase your exposure to UV rays

UVI 3-5 (Moderate Risk)

When the UV index is three, four, or five, your risk for sunburn and damage is moderate. While the risk is still relatively low, at this point, you’ll need to put some thought and effort into sun protection.

Especially if you’re fair-skinned, be sure to apply sunscreen and opt for a hat, some shade, and protective clothing.

When the UVI is between 3-5, you should do the following to protect yourself from the sun:

  • Wear UV-blocking sunglasses
  • Wear sunscreen of at least 30 SPF
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat
  • Wear protective clothing
  • Seek shade during midday

UVI 6-7 (High Risk)

With a UV index of six or seven, everyone should be looking for the beach umbrella or nearest shade tree when the sun is high in the sky!

Regardless of the natural color of your skin, try to be in the shade when the sun is at its strongest on these days — usually, somewhere between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm.

In addition to flocking to the shade, armor up with sun protection. That includes sunglasses, wide-brimmed hats, protective clothing like long-sleeved shirts, and lots of sunscreen.

When the UVI is between 6-7, you should do the following to protect yourself from the sun:

  • Wear UV-blocking sunglasses
  • Wear sunscreen of 30+ SPF
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat
  • Wear protective clothing
  • Try to stay in a shaded area outside

UVI 8-10 (Very High Risk)

At a UV index of eight to ten, the best thing to do is stay inside during the midday’s peak-sun hours. Isn’t shade good enough? Nope.

With a UV index of eight to ten, your beach umbrella still won’t cut it. The UV rays can be reflected off of water, sand, cement, and the like. That means you’re not 100% protected even when you’re in the shade.

That’s why it’s best to not be outside at all during midday hours when the UVI is this high.

Speaking of UV rays reflecting off of the sand, remember the same thing happens with snow. Keep this in mind during snowy play-days or when you’re out for a day on the slopes. Sun protection is still the name of the game!

When the UV index indicates very high risk, sun protection, like sunscreen and clothing, is a must! Reapply sunscreen often (at least every two hours), and make sure all parts of your body are covered.

When the UVI is between 8-10, you should do the following to protect yourself from the sun:

  • Wear UV-blocking sunglasses
  • Wear sunscreen of 30+ SPF
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat
  • Wear protective clothing
  • Stay in the shade when outdoors
  • Avoid going outside between the hours of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

UVI 11+ (Extreme Risk)

The word “extreme” pretty well sums it up here. Your risk for sun damage is extremely high, and you could burn in a matter of minutes!

Use all sorts of sun protection when you go outside, and stay inside as much as possible, especially during peak hours. This may not be the best time for a pool day!

When the UVI is 11+, you should do the following to protect yourself from the sun:

  • Wear UV-blocking sunglasses
  • Wear sunscreen of 50+ SPF and reapply every 2 hours
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat
  • Wear protective clothing
  • Stay in the shade when outdoors
  • Try to avoid going outdoors, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

How To Use The UV Index To Protect Yourself And Your Family

Armed with this information about the UV index scale, using it to protect your family from the harmful rays of the sun is pretty straightforward!

Just like you adjust your clothing for the day based on the weather forecast, you should also plan your sun protection based on the UV index for that day. Get in the habit of checking the UV index when you check the weather.

Sun Safety Tips

Understanding the UV index scale is a great place to start taking better care of your skin. Here are three more ways you can be sun-safe all year long.

1) Wear Sunscreen Every Day

Applying sunscreen is one sun protection habit that should be automatic no matter what the UV index is! This is a basic line of protection against sun damage.

But don’t just reach for the nearest sunscreen. All sunscreens are not created equal! Choose one that is safe for your body, gentle on your skin, and provides broad-spectrum protection.

The ingredients used in mineral sunscreen are safer and less irritating to your skin than the chemicals used in chemical blocks. Stay away from the chemical ingredients and opt for a non-nano zinc oxide mineral sunblock. You should also use a separate sunscreen for your face than you do for your body. Facial sunscreen is typically made with a gentler formula that is better for the skin than body sunscreen.

In addition to being easy on your skin, zinc oxide is naturally broad-spectrum! That means it automatically protects you from both UVA and UVB rays, which is exactly what you want.

If you’re looking for a naturally broad-spectrum sunscreen that you know will be safe for your skin, look no further than Babo Botanicals. Babo Botanicals has a variety of natural sunscreen products that are made with organic, plant-based ingredients and are safe for the entire family. We have facial sunscreen, 100% mineral SPF body sunscreen, baby-safe sunscreen, and so many more amazing products.

 All of our products go on smoothly and don’t leave that white residue on your skin. Our sunscreen products smell fresh and clean and are made with natural ingredients that do an excellent job protecting you from harmful UV rays.

2) Bring Extra Sun Protection As Needed

Checking the UVI before leaving the house helps you know whether or not you’ll need extra sun protection.

Depending on the forecast and your tendency to burn, at minimum, bring hats and sunglasses for the whole family. On higher-risk days, grab beach umbrellas and protective clothing like long-sleeve shirts.

3) Plan Your Time Outside Accordingly

Lastly, knowing the UV index for the day allows you to plan your day accordingly.

If the UV index indicates high or very high risk, your best bet is to rearrange your plans for outdoor fun to include shade or being indoors during the midday hours.

Being sun-smart doesn’t have to mean staying inside all day! Instead, it just means knowing what the UV index is and making plans accordingly so you and your family can have fun and be safe!

UV Index Scale: FAQs

What Is The UV Index Scale?

The UV index scale is a scale that ranges from 1 to 11 and measures the UV radiation in a particular place. The UV radiation level depends on various factors, such as the time of day, the season of the year, latitude and longitude, and the amount of clouds in the sky. The higher a number is on the UV scale index, the more damaging the sun will be at that time. The UV index is important to know that you can take the proper precautions to protect yourself from the sun.

Why Is UV So High In Australia?

Australia has some of the highest UV radiation in the world because the Earth’s orbit brings Australia closer to the sun during the summer. This can cause Australia to have an extra 7% solar UV intensity. Australia also has a more clear atmosphere, which can expose people even more to UV radiation. This is why it’s so important to wear high SPF sunscreen during the summer in Australia.

What Is The Highest UV Index Ever Recorded?

The highest UV index ever recorded was a whopping 43.3. This incredibly high UV index was detected in 2003 at Bolivia’s Licancabur volcano. Other areas in South America, like Peru, Chile, and Argentina, often experience UV indexes higher than 25, but this 43.3 UV index was record-breaking. A UV index of 43.3 is more similar to the conditions on Mars than on Earth.

It’s important to be aware of the UV index so that you can take the proper measures to protect yourself from the sun. Going outside without sunscreen when the UV index is high can cause sunburn and skin damage, so it’s always a good idea to look at the UV index before heading out for the day. 

And just because the sun isn’t out doesn’t mean you still can’t get burned. UV rays can penetrate clouds, so you still need to wear sunscreen even on a cloudy day.

Babo Botanicals is the best place to shop if you want natural and organic sunscreen that is safe for your whole family to use. We carry a variety of mineral sunscreen products, so whether you’re looking for body SPF in a sunscreen spray or facial SPF in a sunscreen lotion, you can find it all, and more at Babo Botanicals.