The Benefits of Sunscreen and When You Should Use It

Sharita Warfield

When the weather is warm, most of us enjoy spending the day outside taking walks, having a picnic, playing games, or gardening. Spending time in the sun has its benefits including improving your mood, improving sleep, building stronger bones, and boosting your immune system. However, there is a danger to long term sun exposure. Sunlight emits ultraviolet (UV) rays which are invisible form of radiation. There are three types of UV rays: UVA, UVB, UVC. While UVC rays are absorbed into the earth’s atmosphere, UVA and UVB rays are absorbed into the skin and can cause skin cancer. Scared yet?

I know you are probably thinking that a little sun exposure could not possibly be that bad. You would be right! However, how many of us are protecting ourselves from the sun after the beneficiary period? Below, I have provided 6 benefits of wearing suncreen and when you should use it.

Reduces Risk of Skin Cancer

UVA rays are the most abundant source of solar radiation. UVA rays penetrate the top layer of skin (and beyond) causing damage to connective tissue that increases the risk of developing cancer. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation applying sunscreen with a SPF of at LEAST 15 decreases the risk of developing carcinoma by 40% and melanoma by 50%.

Protects Against Sunburn

Do you always leave the beach with red, painful skin? Well, you can blame UVB rays. UVB rays  are responsible for sunburn which has a direct link to multiple types of deadly cancers. Sunscreen is a great defense against UV rays. Sunscreen works by absorbing, reflecting, or scattering sunlight. So, the next time you go outside remember to pack your sunscreen!

Reduces Inflammation and Redness

Sunburnt skin is not only painful, but also red, tight, and flaky. When your skin gets sunburnt, those UVB rays are damaging your skin. The body’s response to cell damage is inflammation which directs more blood to the affected area.

Prevents Formation of Wrinkles and Fine Lines

We know UVA rays are the most abundant type of UV rays, but did you know they also cause wrinkles, fine lines, and crow’s feet? Long term exposure to UVA rays results in the loss of collagen and skin elasticity. This will prematurely age you. While we would love to have you in for a STEM Facial or a HydraFacial, using sunscreen is a minimal effort, cost effective way to combat early signs of aging.

Helps with Hyperpigmentation and Blotchy Skin

Many of us, especially POC have hyperpigmentation where certain parts of the skin are darkened or discolored in an inconsistent way. Hyperpigmentation is most prevalent in areas of the body that are regularly exposed to the sun such as your face, hands, and shoulders. Want to know a secret? Using sunscreen helps to get rid of them. Find a sunscreen that works for your routine and apply it daily.

Stops DNA Damage

The sun is a known carcinogen, or substance that promotes carcinogenesis (initiation of cancer formation). This process begins when DNA within skin cells is damaged. The damaged DNA then triggers inflammatory and immunosuppressive processes, accelerated aging, and tumpor development.

Sunscreen has many benefits. Whether your main concern is sunburn prevention or help with getting rid of hyperpigmentation, sunscreen is a necessary component of your skincare routine. BUT WAIT! Did you know that sunscreen needs to be work in instances other than outdoors in the summer? I know, it sounds crazy. Check below for more information and don’t forget to wear your sunscreen!


When to Wear Sunscreen

  • Indoors: UVA rays can penetrate window glass. If you work or study in an area with lots of windows, you are actually receiving similar amounts of UVA ray exposure as you would if you were outside.
  • In the Winter: I’m sure we all covet those sunny winter days. However, the ozone layer is thinner in the winter that it is in the summer. That means if the sun is out, you are more exposed to UV rays. Start making a hbit to apply sunscreen to frequently expose areas like your ears, neck, and scalp.
  • On Cloudy Days: Have you ever gotten a tan on a cloudy day? That’s because 80% of the sun’s UV radiation reaches Earth on a cloudy day.
  • When Wearing Light Colors: Clothing can help to protect us from the sun, but some colors, materials and fabrics still allow sunlight through. Lighter colored clothing such as a white t-shirt will still expose you to harmful UV rays. For greater protection, wear darker colored clothing and thick fabrics such as wool, denim, and corduroy.