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Protect Your Skin: How Sunscreen Helps Fight Aging and Wrinkles

Protect Your Skin: How Sunscreen Helps Fight Aging and Wrinkles

People are constantly talking about how sunscreen is critical for skin cancer prevention. Yet, we don’t talk that often about how sunscreen can help your skin fight premature aging. Today, we’re going to have a chat about sunscreen and aging, how they’re related, and answer some common questions you might have, like why do I need sunscreen every day and how does sunscreen prevent wrinkles? Let’s get started.

The Sun’s Effect On Our Skin:

First and foremost, let’s cover what kinds of effects the sun’s rays can have on unprotected skin (both the good and the bad):

  • Beneficial, Vitamin D Production: When exposed to UV radiation, specialized cells in our skin create vitamin D. Vitamin D is a critical vitamin for hormonal balance, bone health, immune health, and much more.
  • Beneficial, Melanin Production: Our skin also produces more melanin in response to being in the sun – think getting a tan. Melanin is our body’s natural defense against UV radiation – almost like natural sunblock! But it isn’t enough for most of us.
    • UV light can also cause hyperpigmentation (sun spots & age spots), which is a natural effect of sun exposure. It’s not always considered “desirable,” though it’s usually completely harmless.
  • Detrimental, DNA & Cell Damage: When we’re in the sun for too long without adequate protection, our skin cells are literally fried – we call it sunburn. 
    • But, what is actually happening in a sunburn? First, the DNA for the irradiated cells is fractured, and then the body will target those cells for apoptosis (intentional cell death). This is a natural defense mechanism against cancer, but that doesn’t mean we should rely on it. Not all DNA damage leads to cancer, but it certainly can.
  • Detrimental, Structural Breakdown: The sun’s rays, combined with the need to repair after damage, can lead to structural breakdown of the skin’s collagen and elastin – critical components for taught, healthy skin. Repeat, unprotected exposure can lead to fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging.

How Does Sunscreen Prevent Wrinkles and Aging?

Based on the above factors, we can surmise that sunscreen is a great tool in your toolkit for how to prevent aging caused by UV radiation. And this is well-documented in the literature; take this review paper, for example. They also make a note that light in the visible and infrared spectrum can also contribute to skin aging, though to a lesser extent.

Essentially, light speeds up aging, but we can protect ourselves from the most damaging type very easily: UV radiation. If you want an anti-aging bonus in your skincare ingredients, check out this list: 5 Anti-Aging Ingredients You Don’t Want Miss Out On

Why Do I Need Sunscreen Every Day?

Based on all of these factors, it doesn’t make sense not to apply sunscreen every day you’ll be outside, even on cloudy days; just make sure to use a lightweight Mineral Facial Sunscreen on your face. The benefits far outweigh the reduced vitamin D and melanin production that may result from sunscreen use. And, don’t forget to reapply!

Learn More: Does Daily Sunscreen Use Inhibit Vitamin D Absorption?