Health Tips

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Reduce your Wrinkles and Live Better by Using Sunscreen Every Day

While the sun always feels great, there are dangers of too much exposure without proper protection.


More than 1 million people in the U.S. are diagnosed with skin cancer each year, making it the most common form of cancer in the country. Those numbers aren’t surprising when you look at the facts.

More than one-third of the U.S. population reported a sunburn last year and in 2008, only 58% of adults said they usually practice at least one of the three sun-protective behaviors—use sunscreen, wear sun-protective clothing or seek shade.

32% reported only usually applying sunscreen.

When high school students were outside for more than an hour on a sunny day, 14% of girls and only 7% of boys reported routinely using sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or more. Sunscreen can help reduce wrinkles and prolong aging so it can't be that bad, right?

It’s true. You really can reduce wrinkles by applying sunscreen

A new study has found that consistent sunscreen use protects against photoaging—reducing wrinkles, spotting and loss of elasticity caused by exposure to the sun’s ultraviolent radiation.

We’ve all known that sunscreen decreases our risk of sunburn or skin cancer. That’s not why this study is so significant. This study is so significant because these findings are the first to quantify sunscreen’s anti-aging properties.

In fact, those who used sunscreen daily were 24% less likely to show increased signs of aging.

The groundbreaking study itself

More than 900 participants, younger than 55 years of age, were followed for four years. Some were told to use sunscreen daily and were taught how to do so. Other participants were given no directions with regard to using sunscreen. Skin changes were measured through a technique called microtopography—sensitive silicone impressions on the back of each participant’s hand.

This was done because skin surface patterns reflect the severity of the sun’s damage to the deeper skin, especially the elastic fibers and collagen.

Those who used sunscreen daily showed no detectable increase in skin aging after 4.5 years. If regular sunscreen use was shown to reduce wrinkles a lot sooner, sunscreen would probably be flying off the shelves.

What is photoaging?

Over time, wrinkles will collect around the eyes, fine lines blossom around the lips and age spots appear on hands. Up to 90% of these visible skin changes, commonly attributed to age, are actually caused by sun exposure and the use of sunscreen can reduce wrinkles.

Photoaging is a term used to describe changes to the skin induced by UVA rays.

When UVA rays hit the skin, cells in the dermis—the middle layer of skin with fibers that support the skin’s structure—scramble to produce melanin to the epidermis—the outermost layer. This is what gives you that beautiful brown tan.

If this process is repeated, without protection from sunscreen, eventually incorrectly rebuilt skin forms wrinkles and the depleted levels of collagen result in the appearance of leathery skin. Make sure to use your sunscreen to reduce those pesky wrinkles.

Sunscreen jargon

Sunscreens with an SPF of at least 15 are recommended. You should also be aware that an SPF of 30 is not twice as protective as an SPF of 15. An SPF of 15 protects the skin from 93% of UVB radiation and an SPF of 30 protects provides 97% protection so there’s not much difference there.

Last year, the Environmental Working Group said that it had found that 25% of 800 tested sunscreens were effective without containing harmful ingredients. To make the watchdog group's safe list, sunscreens had to be free of oxybenzone, retinyl palmitate (a type of vitamin A), not have an SPF above 50 and protect against UV-A and UV-B rays.

Proper sunscreen protocol

Anyone who spends time outdoors during daylight hours should use sunscreen, even if they have a darker skin pigment or tan easily, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Babies under 6 months old should always be kept out of direct sunlight because their skin is so fragile.

It doesn't matter how old you are, skimping on the sunscreen is never a good idea. Lack of sunscreen causes sunburns or even worse, sun blisters and not to mention, skin cancer. If you can avoid putting your body at risk, you should do it, right? Lather on that sunscreen, reduce wrinkles and protect your self.

Written By bistroMD Team. Published on June 12, 2013. Updated on June 14, 2019.


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