11 Reasons Sunscreen Is Important For The Skin & How To Use It

Reviewed by Dr. Schwarzburg, MD
Written by Jyotsana Rao

The benefits of sunscreen go beyond protecting your skin from the sun. Summer means it is time to run to the store to purchase sunscreen lotion. However, the truth is, we should apply sunscreen every day of the year. It does not matter whether it is summer or winter; you must protect your skin from sun exposure. SPF helps do this. Sunscreen may not be noticeable at first, but it will pay off long-term. This article discusses the sunscreen benefits, how to use them for maximum benefits, and how often you should apply. Take a look.

Why You Should Wear Sunscreen

Let us have a look at the top 11 interesting reasons why you should wear sunscreen throughout the year:

1. Shields From Harmful UV Rays

The continuously depleting ozone layer has put us at a higher risk of getting affected by the harmful rays of the sun. While you do need the sun for your daily dose of Vitamin D, it does not imply that you should put your health at risk! Sunscreens are critical products that protect you from the harmful UV rays (1).

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2. Prevents Premature Aging

All of us love to have younger-looking, radiant, and healthy skin. This is one of the most convincing reasons to start using sunscreen. It shields your skin from developing signs of aging, such as wrinkles and fine lines, sunspots, pigmentation, photodamage, and dry skin. Studies reveal that people below the age of 55 who used sunscreen had 24% lesser chances of developing these aging signs than non-sunscreen and occasional sunscreen users (2).

3. Lowers Skin Cancer Risk

While people started using sunscreen mainly for beauty reasons, this health benefit comes as an advantage. Wear your sunscreen daily and over the days and months to shield your skin from the risk of various types of skin cancer (3). This is the worst type of skin cancer, which can be life-threatening for women as their age increases.

4. Lowers Blotchiness On The Face

Apply sunscreen liberally on your face to prevent the onset of that irritating blotchiness and eruptions of red veins. This can also prevent the onset of acne and other sun rays-induced damages caused by sun overexposure.

5. Prevents Sunburns

Sunburns can thin the skin, making it more transparent, and bruises become more visible. Your skin may experience repeated attacks of peeling, swelling, redness, hives, and itching. This is due to UVB rays, responsible for sunburns. The blisters can escalate the risk of skin cancer. A study published in ‘Annals of Epidemiology’ in August 2008 suggested that recurring occurrences of sunburns could actually put you at a higher risk of lethal melanoma (4). So, apply sunscreen and stay safe.

6. Prevents Tanning

Tan is healthy. However, what you should be aware of is that while you are sunbathing to tan, you are at the risk of being harmed by the harsh UVB rays. Choose a sunscreen that has a minimum sun protection factor 30 to prevent tanning induced by UVB. Make sure you reapply sunscreen every two hours, especially if you have sensitive skin. Or apply it just after your exercise, as sweat could wash away the protective coating.

7. Enhances Health Of The Skin

The essential skin proteins, such as collagen, keratin, and elastin, are protected by sunscreen. These proteins are required for keeping the skin smooth and healthy. Make sure your sunblock has titanium dioxide in it to help reflect UV rays away from the skin and protect the activity of these proteins (5).

[ Read: Sunscreens For Dry Skin ]

8. A Good Cosmetic Option

Nowadays, you get sunscreens that also double up as creams. Just apply it and leave it on. If you have dry skin or sensitive skin, make sure you reapply it every now and then for better safety of your skin.

9. A Wide Assortment To Choose

There are countless variants of sunscreens available in the market today. Plus, they come at affordable rates. You also can get sunscreen recipes online that you can prepare at home, making them even more cost effective.

10. You May Not Have To Reapply After A Swim

Most of the sunscreens or sunblocks available these days are waterproof. This enables you to enjoy yourself in the water, without burning yourself

11. Sunscreen Offers Better Protection Than A Full-Sleeved Dress

You cannot safeguard yourself from the sun by wearing a full-sleeved dress. Did you know that a cotton dress, particularly when damp, offers zero protection from the harmful rays of the sun? Just apply a generous amount of sunscreen under the dress as well.

How To Use Sunscreen

How to use sunscreen every day? If you are wondering about it, here are a few factors that you need to keep in mind while picking up the sunscreen:

1. Always read the ingredient list and make sure your sunscreen contains the following:

  • Titanium dioxide
  • Octyl methoxycinnamate (OMC)
  • Avobenzone (also parsol)
  • Zinc oxide

2. Opt for a broad-spectrum sunscreen lotion or gel that is non-comedogenic and hypoallergenic. Such sunscreens will shield you from ultraviolet rays, both A and B, while safeguarding you from rashes, clogged pores, acne, and sunburns.

3. Choose a sunscreen that is waterproof and comes with a minimum SPF of 30.

4. Always apply sunscreen half an hour before you come into contact with the sun.

How Often To Use Sunscreens

Sunscreens act as a shield against the harmful UV rays which penetrate the skin’s barrier every time your skin is exposed to the sun. It is, therefore, advisable to use sunscreen every day. You may not notice the benefits now, but the advantage of using sunscreen is felt in the long run. If you are out in the sun for a long time either working or enjoying a sunbath on the beach, it is better to reapply sunscreen after every two hours to protect your skin from sunburns.

Applying sunscreen regularly across seasons comes with a host of benefits. These include protection from harmful UV rays, reducing signs of premature aging, preventing sunburns and tanning, and lowering the risk of developing skin cancer. Before you use sunscreens, always select broad-spectrum lotions that are waterproof and contain ingredients such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. To enjoy the long-term benefits of sunscreen, apply sunscreen regularly half an hour before going out and every 2 hours to avoid sunburns and enjoy smooth, healthy, and glowing skin.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can we apply sunscreen after moisturizer?

It is always good to apply sunscreen after you are done with your skin care regime as using serums or moisturizers over your sunscreen will affect the amount of protection it provides.

Can I use sunscreen while pregnant?

It is important to wear sunscreen while you are pregnant. Use one with at least an SPF of 30. Also, not all sunscreens are safe. There are many chemical sunscreens whose constituents can enter your bloodstream and can affect your fetus. It can also cause skin irritations and allergic reactions. Instead, use a natural sunscreen.

How long does sunscreen last once applied?

It usually lasts up to two to three hours, depending on the SPF. Ideally, the sunscreen should be applied 30 minutes before the skin is exposed to the sun. This allows the ingredients to bind to the skin properly. So, reapplying the sunscreen is as important as putting it on. Reapply it every two hours.

Does sunscreen over 30 SPF work?

Yes, sunscreens between SPF 30 and 50 work. However, there is only a tiny difference, SPF 30 protects against approximately 96% of UV rays whereas SPF 50 gives 98% protection from the sun. Therefore, a higher SPF does not necessarily mean greater protection.

What does the SPF number of sunscreen lotions mean?

The SPF refers to the ability of a sunscreen to block UVB rays that can cause sunburns, as well as UVA rays, that can cause deeper skin damage. The higher the SPF number, the higher the protection. But none provides 100% protection. The number shows the length of time your skin will be protected from burning, depending on your skin type. Check for the first sign of reddening in the sun without any protection (for eg., 3mins). Multiply that number by the SPF, that is, 50 * 3 (if the SPF is 50) = 150 minutes of sun protection.

Does expired sunscreen work?

All sunscreens have an expiration date mentioned on the bottle. The usual shelf life of a sunscreen is up to two to three years. However, you can still use it slightly over three years.

Sources

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Sunscreen products Rationale for use formulation development and regulatory considerations
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC6978633/
  2. Sunscreen and Prevention of Skin Aging A Randomized Trial
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/237016903_Sunscreen_and_Prevention_of_Skin_Aging_A_Randomized_Trial
  3. The efficacy and safety of sunscreen use for the prevention of skin cancer
    https://www.cmaj.ca/content/192/50/E1802
  4. Sunburns and Risk of Cutaneous Melanoma Does Age Matter? A Comprehensive Meta-Analysis
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S104727970800094X
  5. Sunscreens–the ultimate cosmetic
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12967508/
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Dr. Schwarzburg

( MD)
Dr. Schwarzburg is a leading authority in the field of minimally invasive cosmetic and laser medicine in New York City.... more