The Benefits of Sunscreen & Long-Term Effects

Suntan lotion woman applying sunscreen solar cream. Beautiful happy cute woman asian applying suntan cream from a plastic container to her nose with ocean in background.

Many people assume dry skin shows the way to wrinkles and if we apply moisturizers, we can prevent them. Too bad that’s not true! Research shows 90% of wrinkles are caused by the sun’s UVA light and damage from sun is the number one cause of premature aging in women and men.

Do you know that even at low-level exposures, UVA light breaks down collagen, which causes wrinkles? Fortunately we have options for sun protection. These are SPF moisturizers, basic sunscreens or tinted moisturizers.

What are Sunscreens?

Sunscreen is a pharmaceutical product designed to protect skin from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation (UVR).  These products contain a physical blocker (zinc oxide or titanium dioxide) which protects the skin from UVB (UVR which can cause sunburn) and UVA (UVR which damages the skin with more long-term effects, such as premature skin aging).  Even though its effectiveness does depend on the amount of physical blocker in the product, they typically have a SPF (sun protection factor) of 30+. The best quality sunscreen will have 6% or more zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide.

Sunscreens are made with 17 active ingredients. These ingredients come into two categories: absorbers (which create a chemical reaction to absorb UVR) and reflectors (which are physical barriers that reflect or block UV rays away from the skin). The majority sunscreens have a mixture of absorbers and/or reflectors. They are available in creams, mousses, lotions and moisturizers.

Benefits of sunscreen

Sunscreen lotions are extremely safe and effective. When worn daily, sunscreens help to minimize the harmful effects of UVB and UVA on DNA.  They also help shield important proteins like collagen, elastin, and keratin, which keep skin smooth and firm. Some daily moisturizers now include zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as these ingredients are well known to help stop or even reverse some signs of aging.

Sunscreen lotions may be quite effective in preventing all kinds of skin cancers, including squamous cell skin cancers and its precursors, as well as melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer.

The long-term effects of not using sunscreen

When you don’t use sunscreen lotions, your skin have no sun protection and you are exposed to ultraviolet radiation (UVR).  Whether from the sun or tanning beds, you invite skin damage, skin cancer, immune suppression, and cataracts. The increase in the number of diagnosed cases of these problems is primarily the result of our lifestyle choices as well as environmental carelessness, such as ozone depletion.

Given this knowledge, which is backed by decades of scientific studies, you can and should take measures to protect yourself by following these steps:

  • Avoid unprotected UVR exposure at any time but particularly between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM which are the hours of peak ultraviolet radiation
  • Wear sun protective clothing, including a long-sleeve shirt, a hat with a three-inch brim and sunglasses.
  • Apply sunscreen with a SPF of 30 or higher to all unprotected skin 15-20 minutes before exposure and reapply it every two hours while exposed.
  • I have very good experience with makeup with sunscreen from Lancome. It is amazing!

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