What is sunscreen?
Sunscreen is simply a skin health product designed to protect your skin from UV ray damage including sunburns and DNA damage. Sunscreens can either be mineral or chemical-based, meaning they have different types of active ingredients.
Mineral sunscreens serve as physical blockers, meaning they are not absorbed into the skin, but rather, sit on top of the skin like a barrier. Chemical sunscreens are absorbed by the skin, which can make them easier to blend in, but are currently under review by the FDA for whether they are still 100% safe for humans. Most dermatologists, such as myself, will only recommend mineral sunscreens for children and if there is any level of concern about safety, then for adults as well.
Do I need to wear sunscreen inside?
Yes, you should be wearing sunscreen every morning. I'm not kidding. It's like brushing your teeth - for the best payoff, you'll want to stick with SPF every morning - right before you get started with the rest of your day (great times are right after a shower, after brushing your teeth - if you're a night showerer, or right when you sit down at your desk).
But why should I wear SPF indoors? If you're sitting in the basement with no windows or technology - then perhaps you don't need sunscreen. Every other time, there is a benefit to wearing SPF. Even indoors, your skin is experiencing damage through windows, computer screens, and more. It's the cumulative damage that matters, not the one-time burn that you can see immediately that you should be concerned about.
What are the top skin health benefits of sunscreen?
- Reduce Your Risk of Skin Cancer by 40%
Imagine if you only brushed your teeth once a year - would you expect to never get cavities or bad breath? Likely not. That's why it's essential to wear daily sunscreen too. By wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or greater, you are reducing your risk of skin cancer by 40%.
2. Age Defense Properties
Most people will say - well, I use a great moisturizer, so why do I still see so many wrinkles? A moisturizer might feel wonderful, but in reality, the #1 skin health hack for strong, smooth, youthful skin is wearing sunscreen. Sunscreen is the top anti-aging skin care solution for men. Worried about wrinkles? Sunscreen. Just ask that co-worker at your office that looks 10 years younger than you thought. He knew about SPF before it was 'hip'.
Let's dig a little deeper as to why this is true. Our skin responds to sun damage aka radiation by producing more melanin, if you can, creating a tan. If you have a burn or a tan, it is a sign that your skin is being harmed by the UV radiation from the sun. Your body is trying to get a layer of protection to the DNA in your vulnerable skin cells. What happens is that each time that tan or burn fades, the damage to the DNA does not. Over the years this repeated attack on your DNA can lead to skin cancer. There are also non burning rays that can stimulate a tan, but even if you are not burning, these go deeper into the 2nd layer of the skin, the dermis. These longer wavelength rays, known as UVA cause break down and irregular production of the building blocks of the firmness of your skin. In addition these can also reduce your skin's own immune system designed to keep that DNA damage mentioned above from turning into pre cancer or cancer. When the rays penetrate into the skin, the cells in the dermis absorb that energy and release reactive oxygen species that negatively impact collagen production. There are several key components of our dermis such as elastin, collagen, hyaluronic acid, glycoproteins and proteoglycans that give our skin tightness and firmness. Repeated damage leads to wrinkles, irregular pigmentation/brown spots, thinning of the skin, solar elastosis where there can be a sallow appearance, enlarging pores and of course, skin cancer.
3. Reduces skin discoloration
Skin discoloration - sometimes called melasma or hyperpigmentation - is found more often in darker skin types but can occur in all skin types. Sunscreen, again, with broad-spectrum protection, can help to ward off the UVA and UVB damaging rays that result from environmental damage - like pollution. That means it's not just the sun you should keep in mind. UV rays come from all different sources, the sun just being one of them.
Okay, I need sunscreen - but I hate sunscreen.
It's not the first time I've heard that one. That's why I developed The Daily - a sunscreen option for people who typically hated sunscreen. It's a broad spectrum SPF 30 that is ultralight, all mineral, FDA-registered and luckily, does much more than just serve as a sunscreen.In fact, it has antioxidants, additional anti-aging ingredients and many more proprietary aspects to the formulation that were specifically selected for men's skin types.
I'm balding - should I wear SPF on my head?
Short answer - no, wear a hat! When heading outside, if you're balding or have less hair on your head, I recommend wearing a wide-brimmed hat to protect the top of the head and ears. Comment with your top hat selections below! Sunscreen is again, like brushing your teeth. Wearing a hat is like mouthwash, staying in the shade is like flossing, and avoiding peak high UV (high likelihood for developing a burn) hours is like not eating mounds of chocolate from breakfast and dessert.
While we all strive to be on our best behavior - if you're visiting a friend for lunch and forget to apply or grabbing a beer after work, don't beat yourself up about not wearing your SPF. Rather, work to use it next time. At the end of the day, this is all about looking & feeling your best every day.
Photo by Travnikovstudio on Canva