It’s well-known that the sun’s damaging UV rays can wreak havoc on the skin. Sun exposure is responsible for most of the visible aging on your skin — far more than other factors combined. UV rays penetrate the outer skin layers and hit the deeper layers of the skin, reducing its elasticity and causing premature aging. One of the countermeasures we have to protect our skin is sunscreen.
Sunscreens combine different ingredients to help stop UV rays from damaging your skin, and these are further split into two distinct categories:
Physical Blockers: Physical blockers such as titanium dioxide or zinc oxide are ground into fine particles. They sit on the skin’s surface and reflect the UV rays away from your skin, essentially like a shield.
Chemical Absorbers: Chemical ingredients form a thin protective film that absorbs UV radiation before penetrating the skin.
Both types of sunscreens have benefits, and many are a combination of the two types. Physical blocker sunscreens can be white and greasy, while chemical absorber sunscreens are usually clear and easy to apply. Chemical sunscreens, though, can cause irritation and allergic reactions in some people.
Many broad-spectrum sunscreens need a combination of ingredients to protect against UVA and UVB rays, which can cause skin damage.
While people generally use sunscreen when venturing outdoors, it’s been verified that it helps reduce skin aging signs. A report published in the Annals of Internal Medicine is part of a research project that Green and colleagues at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research have stretched for more than two decades. More than 900 participants were followed for four years. Some were told to use sunscreen daily and instructed in proper use, including reapplying after being outside for a few hours, after going in the water or sweating heavily. Other participants were given no directions about using sunscreen.
Damage was measured on a scale from 1 to 6, with 1 signifying no damage and 6 meaning skin with severe aging. Participants were given a score at the start of four years and another score at the end; those who used sunscreen daily were 24% less likely to show increased signs of aging, researchers found. It found that even participants who started daily sunscreen applications in their 40s and 50s showed reduced symptoms of skin aging.
Another study sponsored by Johnson & Johnson’s Skin Research Center — led by dermatologists Steven Wang and James Leyden — showed skin improvement in the many signs of aging caused by the sun, such as texture, overall tone, and fine lines. With just a daily application of SPF 30 moisturizer, participants saw improvements of 52 percent in sun spots, 40 percent in skin texture, and 41 percent in skin clarity after a year of use.
This is big news because the daily moisturizer provided only hydration, sun protection, and zero anti-aging ingredients. How such a straightforward formula can give these results is still unclear, but Wang has his guesses. “The most plausible answer concerns skin’s innate regenerative properties,” he explains. “We know that skin turns over every 28 days. By preventing the continual accumulation of more and more damage, we allow the skin to heal on its own.” The sunscreen allows your skin to indulge in some R&R instead of constantly defending itself from UV exposure and repairing the damage.
You should note that the participants used in this study used the SPF 30 moisturizer every day for a year — applied once a day. In conclusion, the sun can do extensive damage to your skin. Using sunscreen with a high enough SPF daily can do wonders for your skin treatment routine.