Is Sunscreen Really Necessary?
You’re probably well aware that prolonged exposure to the sun can cause skin cancer. For young, healthy people, the warning seems very far-off. The constant barrage of advice from doctors and dermatologists urging you to wear sunscreen every waking moment feels like overkill. Can sunscreen really make that much of a difference? Science says yes. In fact, it’s really hard to achieve your best skin without it.
It’s Not Just About Sunburn
UV light, a type of radiation that we can neither see nor feel, is constantly emitted from the sun. It’s what is responsible for the sunburn that so many of us dread, but it also takes an insidious toll on our skin that we often don’t notice until it’s too late. Without protection, UV light penetrates deep into the layers of your skin, breaking it down over time and damaging and altering the DNA in your skin cells, a process that accelerates signs of aging and can eventually lead to cancer.
It really doesn’t take much – a simple suntan is evidence that sun damage has already occurred. A few minutes of UV radiation is all it takes to cause lasting damage to skin tissue.
All Skin Types Need It
What if your skin rarely seems to show any reaction at all to the sun? For those with darker skin tones or those who rarely experience sunburn, it might be difficult to justify adding an extra step into your routine for SPF. But just because your skin doesn’t display the tell-tale redness and inflammation of sunburn doesn’t mean that it isn’t getting damaged by UV rays.
Though some studies have shown that having a darker complexion does protect against some UV radiation, darker skin tones only block a fraction of the sun’s harmful rays – not enough to completely nullify premature aging or an increased risk of skin cancer. The bottom line? Even if you’re not getting burned, it’s still in your best interest to layer on the SPF.
Photoaging Starts Now
Yale Medicine reports that signs of photoaging—the long-term, physical changes that happen to your skin as a result of sun damage—can begin to show up as early as your teen years. Small wrinkles, uneven skin tone, rough texture, and lasting redness are all results of sun damage that you can start to experience at a young age, and no one wants to deal with that on top of trying to fight acne! Signs of photodamage are notoriously costly and difficult to reverse, if they can be reversed at all; it’s best to prevent it from happening at all.
If you’re using acne products correctly, they aren’t damaging your skin. However, they could be making you more vulnerable to sun damage. Because many acne products work to exfoliate your skin in order to keep acne in check, the baby smooth skin they leave behind is thinner and more susceptible to UV rays and the damage they cause. Plus, contrary to the belief that sun exposure clears acne, the damaging effects of the sun can actually set in motion a chain reaction that can make acne worse. One of the best ways to protect your investment in clear, glowing skin? Always use sunscreen.
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