Regular sun exposure is vital to your health — it’s one of the strongest ways to increase your levels of Vitamin D to support your immune system and keep bones, teeth, and muscles healthy. It can also signal our brains to release hormones and neurotransmitters that improve our sleep patterns and our moods. Moderate sun exposure can even help regulate blood pressure! The good news is that — no matter the season or the weather — UV rays from the sun are abundant year-round.
The bad news is that UV rays are abundant year-round, no matter the season or the weather! Even on overcast days clouds only block about 20% of the sun’s damaging rays — and in the winter, snow can reflect up to 80% of UV light back up towards you almost doubling your exposure. That’s why dermatologists recommend everyone wear sunscreen daily on every inch of skin exposed to the elements. Let’s take a look at the top benefits of wearing sunscreen:
Protection From UV Rays
Although some sun exposure is good for you — too much can cause major and sometimes irreversible skin damage that can lead to everything from an uncomfortable burn to permanent discoloration to cancer. Sunscreen blocks harmful rays and greatly reduces the likelihood of severe damage. Use an SPF of at least 15-30 every day.
For Every Skin Type
The color of your complexion doesn’t matter when it comes to preventative skin care and protection from UV rays. While fairer skin tones are more easily burned, more melanated skin is at a higher risk for more serious forms of skin cancer. Sunscreen protects all skin equally and it is essential for everyone to wear according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
Lower Risk of Skin Cancer
Did you know that having 5 or more sunburns in your lifetime doubles your risk for melanoma? In the US, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer according to the CDC. In fact, studies show that 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70 and about 85-90% of melanomas and nonmelanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to UV radiation from the sun. However, daily use of sunscreen decreases your risk by half — so slather it on every day!
Prevents Premature Aging
What most people call aging — fine lines, deep-set wrinkles, and sagging skin — is caused by years of sun damage. As a matter of fact, 90% of visible aging comes from a breakdown of collagen due to excess UV exposure. Leave the leather handbag look behind — wear sunscreen every day to keep skin soft and supple for years to come.
Maintain Even Tone
Continuous sun damage caused by tanning and sunburns can leave behind bleached patches or dark spots on skin. Discoloration can be nearly impossible to reverse — even after use of creams and treatments, spots can still resurface. Damage is cumulative and once it’s done it is very difficult to recover the health of your skin. Prevent it and keep complexion smooth and even by wearing sunscreen.
If you’re not sure what to look for when purchasing sunscreen, look for products that offer broad-spectrum protection, water-resistance, and an SPF of at least 15-30. Seek out active ingredients like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide — especially for more sensitive skin.
To help easily incorporate this step into your daily routine, try swapping out products you already use — like moisturizer, lotions, and makeup — for a version with SPF included. Don’t miss your ears, neck, lips, and other oft-forgotten areas. Prevent sunburn, reduce your risk of skin cancer, decrease premature aging, and maintain even skin tone — wear sunscreen every day to save your skin from damaging UV rays!