Why You Should Wear Sunscreen Every Day

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Kevin Aister DO

Apr 21, 2020

Your skin has to deal with multiple hazards every day. Pollution, air that’s too dry or too humid, extremes of heat and cold — all these things can wreak havoc on your complexion. Perhaps the worst hazard, however, is damage from the sun. Here’s why it’s essential to wear your sunscreen daily.

1) Wearing sunscreen protects you from sunburn

The most obvious reason to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays is to prevent sunburn. Even if you have naturally dark skin, you can still burn if you spend too long in strong sunlight without protection. Remember that you can burn on cold days, even with low clouds, fog and mist.

It’s especially important to remember your sunscreen when you’re swimming outdoors, in the sea, or an outdoor pool. The cooling effect of the water can prevent you from noticing a sunburn until it’s too late. People sometimes assume that the water will block those harmful UV rays; unfortunately, this is not the case.

2) Sunscreen keeps you looking younger

Sun damage causes aging. People who spend a lot of time outdoors are especially vulnerable to the effects of sun aging, but everyone needs to protect themselves from UV whenever they go out. UV radiation from the sun breaks down your skin cells and causes it to lose elasticity. You’ll develop wrinkles much earlier than you need to if you don’t wear sunscreen every day.

3) Sunscreen prevents discoloration, liver spots, and melasma

When people go out in the sun, they are often hoping for a “healthy” tan, perhaps with a scattering of cute freckles. The reality is often far less prepossessing. Instead of a beautiful, even bronze, many people — especially those with fair skin — end up developing patches of brown skin called melasma. As you get older, it’s common to develop small dark blemishes on the skin, especially the backs of the hands. These spots are known as liver spots, and they’re the result of skin damage. Liver spots are heavily associated with aging and are generally not welcome. If you use sunscreen regularly, you can prevent these blemishes from appearing or worsening.

4) Sunscreen helps protect you against melanoma

Melanoma, or skin cancer, is a dangerous condition. Your risk for melanoma is much lower if you take steps to protect yourself from the sun. People who live in hot countries, work outdoors, or do a lot of sun tanning are particularly at risk.

If you’ve had a lot of sun exposure and haven’t protected yourself with sunscreen, there are steps you can take to avoid developing melanoma. In particular, you should check any moles or beauty marks regularly, as well as looking out for any changes in your skin. Blemishes that seem unusual and don’t clear up should be reported to a medical professional. If caught early, the cells can be removed before cancer develops.

Fortunately, there are plenty of excellent sunscreen options on the market today. Many modern sunblock formulas are designed to be worn all day, every day, alone or under your usual makeup. You can choose from physical sunblocks, such as those made using zinc or titanium or chemical sunblocks, which give you invisible protection.

The majority of foundations and tinted moisturizers come with an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 15. You should reapply your foundation regularly if you’re planning to rely on it for sun protection, however.

If you’re planning a day at the beach, you’ll need a waterproof sunscreen that gives you good all-over coverage and lasts even when you’re active. It would be best if you reapplied your sunscreen regularly, topping it up every hour or so. Under strong sunlight, your sunscreen may not be enough to prevent burning and sun damage. Wear a wide-brimmed hat and cover up as much as possible. If you’re someone who burns very quickly, consider investing in a whole-body swimsuit. Don’t forget to keep applying sunscreen to any exposed areas, like your face, hands, and feet.

Rule one for anyone who cares about their skin should be to never go outside without applying a good-quality sunscreen of at least SPF 15. Your skin will thank you.

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