How Everything Works
How Everything Works How Everything Works
 

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
 
Question 172

If lighter colors reflect more light, then why is it easier for a pale person to sunburn than someone with a darker skin tint?
The colors that you see are determined by the visible light absorbed by a surface. Thus, while the whitest skin reflects most visible light and appears white, it does absorb light that you can't see: ultraviolet light. This ultraviolet light is what damages the skin and causes sunburn. Darker skin absorbs most of the ultraviolet before it gets to sensitive skin cells while lighter skin lets that ultraviolet in far enough to cause injury.
         

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