Wearing broad spectrum sunscreen every day is a preventative measure we should all take no matter our age, location, race, or gender. Consider it the skin care equivalent to brushing your teeth or getting regular exercise — things that make an impact in our overall health over the long run. Applying sunscreen may not feel very meaningful or important right now, but later on down the road you'll be super glad you took the step in our routine. (The opposite is true, as well.) To help compel you to slather up, we reached asked two dermatologists to share the numerous reasons why SPF is so important.
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Sunscreen Prevents Skin Cancer
Melanoma is no joke, and it's the number one reason why dermatologists — and all doctors, for that matter, insist on daily sunscreen application.
"SPF protects our skin against the harmful UV radiation rays from the sun. We know that UV radiation leads to skin cancer, so protecting ourselves is key," says Dr. Deanne Robinson, a board-certified dermatologist based in Westport, Conn. "Using a broad-spectrum with an SPF of 30 of above and reapplying every two hours — or after water and sports — is key."
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Sunscreen Keeps Your Skin Looking Younger
The sun's UVA rays are responsible for causing both cancer and premature aging, but applying sunscreen reduces your risk of both.
"Sun-related premature aging signs include lines, wrinkles, sallowness of the skin, and sun spots," says Dr. Robinson. "The UV radiation [also] breaks down our collagen, which is the building blocks of our skin. We want to preserve and protect our collagen as much as possible since its breakdown leads to many signs and symptoms of aging."
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Sunscreen Helps Prevent Melasma and Sun Spots
Speaking of sun spots...
"Sun spots are those pesky brown spots that develop on sun exposed skin — primarily face, arms, chest, shoulders and back — and that occur after sun exposure from the stimulation of melanocytes, or pigment producing cells in the skin," explains Dr. Shari Marchbein, a NYC-based board certified dermatologist. "Melasma, also known as mask of pregnancy, is a form of hyperpigmentation characterized by brown patches on sun exposed areas, such as the cheeks, forehead, upper lip, and can occur less commonly off of the face on the scalp and arms."
Sun exposure exacerbates both of these issues — both of which are very difficult to treat — which makes preventative sunscreen application vital.
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Sunscreen Reduces Our Risk of Painful Burns
The sun's UVB rays are responsible for causing painful burns when we're exposed to the sun without being protected via sunscreen.
"Burned skin is damaged skin," says Dr. Robinson. "A burn is our body's way of trying to deal with too much UV radiation or sun. Burns can lead to blisters [and] discoloration of the skin."
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