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

There are several valid reasons for using protection against UV rays, even indoors.

Medically reviewed by Dr. Schwarzburg, MD
Written by Jyotsana Rao, BE
Edited by Ramona Sinha, MA (English Literature), Certified Skin Care Coach
Fact-checked by Swathi E, MA (English Literature), Certified Skin Care Coach  • 

Why is sunscreen important, you ask? We have the answer. 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. Dr. Nadir Qazi, a board-certified physician, says, “Sunscreen is the most important skin care product to maintain long-term skin health. It is vital in preventing signs of aging from appearing on the skin. Fine lines, wrinkles, and sunspots are all symptoms that can arise due to a lack of proper sunscreen application.” The effects of 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.

protip_icon Trivia
In 1878, Otta Veiel of Austria invented the first type of sunblock from tannins extracted from plants.

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! This radiation may lead to sunburn and skin damage. Sunscreens are critical products that protect you from the harmful UV rays (1).

Sunscreen shields from harmful UV rays
Image: Shutterstock

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. Indulging in outdoor activities without proper sun protection may accelerate signs of aging. Prevention is key and is possible with the help of sunscreen application. It shields your skin from developing signs of aging, such as wrinkles and fine lines, sunspots, hyperpigmentationi  XA skin condition in which dark patches can occur in parts of the body due to increased melanin production. , photodamagei  XSkin changes as a result of overexposure to the sun. This causes premature skin aging, hyperpigmentation, and freckles. , (sun damage), 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

Woman with sunscreen on her face
Image: Shutterstock

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

Woman with sunburn on her face
Image: Shutterstock

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 melanomai  XSkin cancer that develops in melanin cells, which give the skin its color. The disease can spread to other parts of the body. (4).

Moreover, a survey conducted on 4,088 adults in the US found that 79.6% of the participants reported using some form of sun protection the last time they experienced sunburn. Sunscreen was found to be the most common form of sun protection used, with 38.8% of the participants using it on the face, neck, and chest. 19.9% reported using sunscreen on the body, and 8.9% reported using makeup containing sunscreen.

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

Woman pinching her cheeks to show healthy skin
Image: Shutterstock

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).

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

Woman applying waterproof sunscreen on her child in the pool
Image: Shutterstock

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 and sun safety tips 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 methoxycinnamatei  XA substance widely used in skin care and cosmetic formulations. It helps protect the skin from UVB rays. (OMC)
  • Avobenzonei  XAn oil-soluble ingredient used widely in chemical sunscreens. It absorbs into the skin and shields it from UVA rays. (also parsol)
  • Zinc oxide

2. Opt for a broad-spectrum sunscreen lotion or gel that is non-comedogenic and hypoallergenici  XSubstances that are used in cosmetic products, which are unlikely to cause an allergic reaction such as skin irritation or swelling. . 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.

protip_icon Fun Fact
Ancient Greeks used olive oil as sunscreen to protect their skin from sun damage. Ancient Egyptians used rice, lupine plants, and jasmine for the same.

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 or at the poolside, it is better to reapply sunscreen after every two hours to protect your skin from sunburns. Consult a dermatologist to learn more about sunscreen reapplication intervals best suited for your skin type.

While we have covered all the good things about incorporating sunscreen into your skin care routine, let’s get familiar with a few of the possible side effects too. Scroll down.

Side Effects Of Sunscreen

Redness on face due to sunscreen
Image: Shutterstock
  • Acne Breakouts: Some sunscreens contain pore-clogging ingredients that may make your skin break out.
  • Skin Irritation: Some individuals may be allergic or sensitive to certain ingredients present in sunscreens and, hence, experience inflammation, itching, and redness.
  • Photosensitivity: Some individuals may experience adverse reactions due to certain ingredients that make the skin more sensitive when exposed to the sun, thereby causing sunburn or irritation.
  • Increased Risk Of Cancer: Benzophenone-3 is a chemical used in many sunscreens that has been found to negatively affect estrogen levels and increase the risk of breast cancer (6).

Infographic: Benefits Of Applying Sunscreen Lotion

Sunscreen is highly beneficial for several reasons. Knowing the key reasons you should apply sunscreen throughout the year is important for protecting the skin from UV damage. Check out the infographic below to learn how sunscreen protects the skin from the harmful effects of UV exposure.

benefits of applying sunscreen lotion (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Get the high-quality PDF version of this infographic.

Download Infographic in PDF version

Hopefully, now you will stop wondering, “Is sunscreen good for skin?” because it is good, and 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

Why is sunscreen important even at home?

Dr. Hamdan Abdullah, a board-certified dermatologist, says, “It is important to wear sunscreen even at home as windows and other materials can allow UV rays to penetrate indoors. Moreover, if you work near windows or spend time outdoors, you may still be exposed to UV radiation. Thus, it is essential to use sunscreen regularly to protect your skin.”
Dr. Qazi adds, “Sunscreen is important anywhere there is ambient light. UV rays are not just found at the beach or on your local hike. There are two main types of ultraviolet radiation that affect our skin: UVA and UVB rays. UVB radiation levels increase during the hotter months and, most of the time, can be avoided in the shade. UVA is everywhere – everywhere that there is ambient light, in the shade, in buildings, during the winter and cooler months. Both types of radiation cause sun damage and can lead to severe health issues like skin cancer. It is crucial to apply sunscreen in the morning, reapply regularly throughout the day, and remove it at night before bed to help prevent skin cancer and premature aging due to sun damage.”

Can I skip moisturizer and use sunscreen?

Dr. Qazi says, “A chemical sunscreen should be applied before a moisturizer, and a mineral sunscreen should follow moisturizer in a skin care routine, but sunscreen is not a replacement for a nourishing moisturizer. Your skin type also plays a part in whether or not you should skip the moisturizer. People with more oily skin can apply moisturizer as a protective barrier to ensure the skin is hydrated and protected.” Nonetheless, there are some carefully formulated products that may enhance sunscreen’s overall skin protection properties.
Dr. Crystal Dinopol, MD, a dermatologist, adds, “There are a lot of sunscreens with added benefits like hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, ceramides, and so on that can replace your moisturizer in your morning routine. This saves a lot of time and money for most people who are busy and trying to maximize their skin care products.”

Should I wear sunscreen on rainy days?

Dr. Qazi says, “Sunscreen should still be worn on rainy days due to UVA rays still being prevalent even through the clouds.” Dr. Dinopol adds, “Sunscreen should be worn regardless of the weather. Clouds and rain do not block out UVA, which causes aging signs, and UVB, which causes sunburns.”

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.

Key Takeaways

  • Sunscreen protects our skin against harmful rays, skin aging, blotching, sun tan, and skin cancer.
  • Apply sunscreen in summer and winter both and even during swimming.
  • To protect your skin against sun tan when you are directly under the sun, make sure to apply sunscreen every two hours.
  • Some ingredients in the sunscreen might cause skin irritation; thus, choose the product according to your skin type.

Learn from a dermatologist as they reveal 10 common sunscreen mistakes to avoid. Discover the correct amount to apply and gain valuable insights for effective sun protection in this informative video.

Personal Experience: Source

References

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/
  6. Benzophenone-3 promotion of mammary tumorigenesis is diet-dependent
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7721615/
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