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There’s nothing like a beautiful sunny day, but it can end in itchy pain if you’re not careful. Using sunscreen and knowing when the sun is harshest can help with that. The UV Index makes that easier to understand.

What Is the UV Index?

The “Ultraviolet Index”—a.k.a. UV Index—is the standard of measurement for ultraviolet (UV) radiation. People don’t think of the sun as giving off radiation, but that’s exactly what’s happening. UV radiation is what burns your skin.

The UV Index scale goes from 0 (minimal risk) to 11+ (very high risk).  These numbers change throughout the day. Early in the morning, when the sun is low, the index is around 1-2. At mid-day, when the sun is directly up top and beating down, the index can be 8-11+.

This scale is based on how quickly it would take for someone with “Type 2” fair skin to burn. A UV Index of 0-2 means most people can stay in the sun for up to one hour without burning. A higher UV Index of 6-7 means they’d burn in less than 20 minutes.

There are plenty of other variables to consider, such as cloud cover, shade, and sunscreen. The thing to know is a high UV Index means the sun is dangerous and you should limit your exposure and wear some sort of protection.

How to Check the UV Index

If you have a weather app on your phone, there’s a good chance it can tell you the UV Index. This is the most convenient way to check, and that will ensure you actually do check before heading out into the sun.

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Apple’s Weather app, which comes preinstalled on the iPhone and iPad, includes the UV Index. Open the app to your current location and scroll to the bottom of the screen to see the UV Index.

iPhone weather UV Index.

Also, if you’re an Apple Watch owner, the “Infographic” watch face shows the UV Index as well. You can add this complication to any watch face.

Infographic watch face on the Apple Watch.
Apple

Android devices don’t have one standard weather app, but there is a weather web app built into Google Search. Simply open the Google app and search for “weather.” The result will be for your location, and you can expand the result to see UV Index.

Google app UV Index.

Apple and Google are pulling this information from The Weather Channel, which also has an app for iPhoneiPad, and Android devices. It includes the UV Index in its “Today’s Details” section and in the hourly forecast.

Weather Channel app UV Index.

Weather apps are great for checking the UV Index, but you can take it to the next level with a dedicated app. The advantage of a UV Index app is notifications and the ability to fine-tune the Index to your skin type.

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One of our favorite UV Index apps for iPhone, iPad, and Android is “UVLens.” After you give it your location, you’ll see an easy-to-read dial that shows the current UV Index. You can scroll around the dial to see the rating for other times throughout the day.

UVLens home dial.

The “My Skin” tab is where things get really cool. You enter your eye color, skin color, and hair color and it uses that information to tell you how long it will take for you to burn. Tap the sunscreen bottle and you can even see how long you’ll last with protection and get reminders to re-apply.

Skin information in UVLens.

With all of these tools at your disposal, there’s no reason to ever suffer from a painful sunburn again. Take advantage of good weather and stay safe in the process.

RELATED: How to Hear a Weather Forecast With Your Alarm on Android

Joe Fedewa Joe Fedewa
Joe Fedewa is a Staff Writer at How-To Geek. He has close to a decade of experience covering consumer technology and previously worked as a News Editor at XDA Developers. Joe loves all things technology and is also an avid DIYer at heart. He has written thousands of articles, hundreds of tutorials, and dozens of reviews.
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