Sorry for the intense headline, but it’s time to talk about the importance of sunscreen. We receive too many inquiries asking, “Is sunscreen bad for you?” and “Do I always have to wear sunscreen?” that it’s time for us to break down deeply why and when you should be wearing sunscreen.
So here’s the deal: You know how you love indulging in hydrating essences, luxurious oil cleansers, and eye creams? You’re kind of wasting your money on all of those products if you don’t wear sunscreen every single day. Sure, I’m being a bit dramatic, but it’s kind of true. Just think about it. Every second you spend outside in the presence of the sun without sun protection is exposing your skin to the sun’s damaging rays.
What do the sun’s rays do? Glad you asked! UV rays from the sun can cause premature wrinkles and pigmentation. Even more importantly, not wearing sunscreen increases your changes of developing skin cancer, which is no joke. When you skip out on sunscreen, you increase your chance of developing skin cancer by 50 percent. So, it’s safe to say that sunscreen is the best and most important anti-aging skin care product out there.
And it’s also safe to say that if you consistently don’t wear sunscreen, then your other anti-aging products are just working to try and correct skin damage instead of preventing it, and wouldn’t you rather have your expensive products work on preventing any fine lines from showing up than trying to erase the wrinkles and dark spots you developed from being out in the sun?
If you wear sunscreen every day, you’ll get to use your skin care for what it’s truly for: keeping your skin healthy and fortifying it with ingredients that help remedy skin issues that aren’t caused by something you can prevent on your own, like acne, heredity hyperpigmentation, and dark circles.
So now that my main point is out of the way, I’d like to discuss some points about sunscreen that you absolutely need to keep in mind (some are myths and some are just things you need to remember to make sure your sunscreen usage is 100 percent effective). I’ve enlisted the help of Merry Thornton, a PA at Schweiger Dermatology in New York City.
You need to wear sunscreen more often than you think—even when it’s raining
“UV rays, which are responsible for skin cancer and aging, are present rain or shine,” says Thornton. “The sun is out respective of temperature, and clouds do not block these harmful rays. Make it a habit to apply sunscreen year-round.”
And yes, you even need to wear it at the gym (if it has windows)
One of the biggest things people forget is that you need to wear sunscreen at the gym, especially if it has windows, which many do! I think about this a lot. I often go to my gym in the morning right as the sun is rising. There’s a window right in front of my favorite treadmill and as I’m sweating away, I actually feel the sun on my skin and it gets so strong that it blinds my face. UV rays penetrate through windows! Protect your skin from them when you’re in your sweat session.
Even if you have a tan, you still need to wear SPF
“There are two things wrong with thinking you don’t need sunscreen if you have a tan,” says Thornton. “First, there is no such thing as a safe tan! A tan is your body’s response to damage from UV rays. Secondly, a tan provides minimal SPF, offering very little protection from the sun.”
Stop thinking that all sunscreens will break you out
OK, this is a valid argument. I agree that in the short term, I would rather forgo sun protection than walk around with a bunch of pimples. But there are many sunscreen formulations and a lot of them won’t break you out! I can almost promise you this. For example, the Acwell Aqua Capsule Sun Control Gel SPF35 is super light and comes in a gel formulation, so it’s not heavy at all. It was made for oily skin.
Also, stop believing that the chemicals in sunscreen will give you cancer
This is what people are probably trying to answer when they Google “Is sunscreen bad for you?”
Here’s the truth: “When people ask if there is a link between sunscreen and cancer, they are usually referring to literature they have read regarding a chemical in some sunscreens called oxybenzone,” says Thornton. “When used at normal doses, there are no studies, to my knowledge, that show that sunscreen causes cancer. On the other hand, we do know that UV rays are a known carcinogen. If chemicals are a concern to you, use a physical sunscreen containing zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which effectively block UVA and UVB rays.”
And it’s time to end the myth that darker skin tones don’t need to wear sunscreen as much
Repeat after me: UV rays do not discriminate. “Not only are all skin types at risk for skin cancer, but the sun can also cause premature aging in the form of wrinkles, sagging, melasma, and sun spots on all skin types,” says Thornton. “While skin cancer is more common in older Caucasians, patients with skin of color are not immune. In fact, skin cancer in patients with skin of color is often diagnosed in later stages when it is harder to treat.”
Afraid that sunscreen will give your darker skin a white cast? We’ve covered that, too. Here’s what two super popular Korean sunscreens look like on a variety of darker skin tones. The favorite sunscreen among those who tested was the Missha Waterproof Sun Milk SPF 50. It sinks immediately into skin and leaves skin looking exactly how it looked before the sunscreen.
Yes, the sun gives you vitamin D, but wearing sunscreen won’t make you vitamin D deficient
“We get vitamin D from food and sun. Dietary sources such as fortified milk and orange juice as well as supplements can provide substantial amounts of vitamin D,” says Thornton. “The American Academy of Dermatology does not recommend getting vitamin D from sun exposure, as the negative effects of UV rays outweigh the benefits.”
Please, please wear sunscreen all the time! There’s a lot of them out there aren’t going to make you feel like a huge greaseball. In fact, so many Korean sunscreens just feel like moisturizers fortified with sun-blocking powers. My favorite? The Neogen Day-Light Protection Sun Screen SPF 50. I have really dry skin and this actually works to plump up my skin in the morning and the blueberry extract works to brighten my skin and make me look more awake.
Oh, and two more things! Don’t forget to re-apply every two to three hours! You can do this with a cushion compact that contains SPF 30 or higher, or with a tone up cushion, like this awesome Klavuu City Defense Tone – Change Cushion SPF50 (it’s simply a cushion compact that applies sunscreen over makeup). And keep in mind that sunscreens do expire. Check the date on your sunscreen and make sure to toss it out after that date has passed (hopefully you’ll never have to do that since you’ll be wearing sunscreen all the time, hehe).
Protect your skin this summer—it’s going to be a hot and fun one!