Sunscreens are often an afterthought when we think about our daily skincare routine. We often associate sunscreen with sunny days and the summer months when it should be in our daily skincare routine year-round. The benefits of sunscreen go beyond just preventing sunburns. It’s a preventative tool for the common signs we link to skin aging.
Why Sunscreens Are the Most Effective Anti-aging Product
Many regard cleansers, toners, and creams, as part of their daily skincare and have routines to take care of their skin. Yet some people regard sunscreens as only a preventative solution to sunburns when going to the beach or camping.
In reality, sunscreens have a far more significant long-term impact on skin quality than all other skincare products combined. Sunscreens protect our skin from the most common source of skin problems: Overexposure to UVA and UVB rays. Most are aware that UVB rays cause sunburns, but many forget UVA rays can cause skin damage year-round, even on cloudy days.
- Sun damage from repeated exposure to UV rays accounts for the overwhelming majority of environmental aging.
- In the short-term, overexposure to UV rays causes sunburns which can be painful and increase skin cancer risk.
- The long-term effects of UV exposure cause premature aging, wrinkles, fine lines, and sagging of the skin. As the long-term effects are not noticeable immediately, many underestimate the damage from UV exposure to their skin. If you compare the skin on the inside of your arms with the skin of the outer arms exposed to years of sun exposure, you can visualize the effects of sun damage.
- Photo-aging, the roughness of the skin, broken blood vessels, and pigmentation problems like sun spots caused by sun damage can significantly affect the appearance of the skin.
What to Look For in a Sunscreen
Sunscreen formulations have advanced a great deal in the past decade. There are many effective and inexpensive sunscreens available.
- Broad-spectrum protection: Check that your sunscreen is labelled broad-spectrum to protect against UVA & UVB rays. While most sunscreens nowadays do offer broad-spectrum protection, some do not. Remember that SPF only measures protection from UVB rays.
- Min. SPF 30: Choose sunscreens that have an SPF of 30 or higher. SPF indicates how long the skin can be exposed to the sun without getting sunburnt. The number indicates the difference in the time it takes to become sunburned with and without sunscreen. Read the article “What is SPF?” for more details on this measurement.
- Pick one you like: Choose an affordable sunscreen and one that you would enjoy and feel comfortable using, as it will encourage you to use them more regularly. Using an expensive sunscreen sparingly to make it last longer won’t provide enough protection. The best sunscreen is the one you use regularly and liberally.
Wearing SPF Regularly & Reapplying
One of the main challenges in sun protection is compliance. Like medical compliance – the degree to which patients follow medical advice and take the instructed medication – sunscreen can be seen in a similar light.
Helpful tips for wearing sunscreen daily
The key to using sunscreens daily is to like the product itself and build a routine that includes sunscreen applications. Texture and finish is usually a factor in determining regular use. Many consumers complain that they do not like the sticky or greasy texture of many sunscreens. Visit a beauty store or drugstore and ask staff if they have testers/samples of sunscreens for you to try. There are many formulations on the market and many online reviews that describe how sunscreen feels, looks and smells to help your search for the perfect sunscreen. Applying sunscreen with a brush or sponge can also help make the product feel nicer on the skin. Using a sponge is also a great way to reapply sunscreen mid-day over makeup.
If you prefer a short skincare routine and find adding sunscreen annoying, consider a moisturizer with sunscreen. Although a stand-alone sunscreen is recommended, an SPF moisturizer is better than no sunscreen at all.