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If You Do Just One Thing... Wear Sunscreen

Not one day goes by when your skin doesn’t come into contact with the sun. Spring. Summer. Fall. Winter. Skin-ravaging UVB rays filter through even the most overcast of skies. For this very fact alone you should be wearing sunscreen. Every. Single. Day.

And though you may feel defeatist about the sun sins of your youth, UV damage doesn’t take a break when we wise up later in life; its effects are cumulative and ongoing, no matter your age. In fact, mature skin suffers at the hands of UV rays even more than younger skin. The moral: Daily sunscreen usage may not erase the past, but it will protect against current UV exposure and additional damage in the future.

Need more proof as to why daily sunscreen is a must? Read on.

It Slows the Signs of Aging

But you’ve already lived a full life, right? True, but wearing broad-spectrum SPF 30 or higher daily can slow further development of fine lines and wrinkles. If given the chance, UVA rays, which penetrate skin deeply, will break down collagen and elastin — the essential proteins that keep your skin plump and firm — which eventually leads to sagging skin and wrinkle formation. Researchers estimate that around 90 percent of extrinsic skin aging (aging due to outside factors) is due to sun exposure. Broad-spectrum sunscreen has been shown to give you a 24-percent-less-visible-aging leg up on those who go without.

It Lowers the Risk of Skin Cancer

Though skin cancers result from decades of cumulative damage, there’s no time like today to start protecting your skin. Here’s why: According to skincancer.org, the majority of UV-ray exposure occurs after age 40. As mentioned above, skin thins with age, but also, thanks to intrinsic (normal) aging, our bodies don’t repair damaged DNA as efficiently as in our younger years, which in turn increases the chances that abnormal cell growth will occur unhampered — and that can lead to mutations that cause skin cancer. UVB rays, which cause skin to burn and redden, tend to be the culprit here. Compromised immune systems, which also occur more frequently later in life, also are susceptible to UVB exposure and eventual skin cancer. The message: There’s no time like now to protect yourself against the sun. 

It Helps Even Skin Tone

You know those sun spots that pop up here, there, and everywhere? While wearing sunscreen daily won’t eradicate the damage you’ve already incurred, it will help halt further hyperpigmentation due to UV exposure. Add to that, wearing a daily sunscreen helps reduce the appearance of red veins.

Which Sunscreen Is Right for You? 

Now that you’re sold on using a sunscreen daily, what type should you choose? Always select a broad-spectrum formula, which shields against both UVA and UVB rays, with an SPF of 30 or higher. SPF tells you how long it will take for UVB rays to redden skin while using a sunscreen versus exposing skin without. The higher the SPF, the better off you are — especially if you’re active outdoors. And we insist you look into nontoxic sunscreens.

Photo: Fotostorm

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