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WATCH: A scary reminder of how the Sun sees you
Bec Crew   
Friday, 15 August 2014

You might think you have perfect skin, but that's not what the Sun sees. Here's why you should never leave the house without applying sunscreen.

We’re used to the way we look in visible light, but how does the Universe, with all of its radio waves, infrared, ultraviolet, X-rays, and gamma rays, see us? US-based photographer Thomas Leveritt decided to show some volunteers what they looked like in ultraviolet (UV) light, using a special filter and camera set-up in a park in New York. 

You might look like you have perfect skin in visible light, but you should see yourself in UV light. Freckles! And lots of them. These little patches of melanin - or skin pigment - are the signs of ageing and sun damage that we can’t ordinarily see. 

Next Leveritt gave his volunteers sunscreen to apply in front of the UV filter set-up, and it looked more like smears of black war-paint than a light, white cream.

Phil Plait at Slate explains:

"The camera detects UV from the Sun that’s reflected off people’s skin; the point of sunscreen is to absorb that UV so it doesn’t even reach the skin. Since no UV is reflected from sunscreen, it appears black in the video, even though in visible light it looks white. It looks like people are smearing crude oil on their faces, which is pretty funny."

Another reminder to always wear sunscreen whenever you leave the house. Time to cover up those invisible freckles!

 
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