July 15, 2023

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REFERENCE LAB

Beyond UV Protection: 7 Surprising Ways Sunscreen Benefits Your Skin
If there’s one thing that dermatologists, estheticians, and medical professionals alike can agree on, sunscreen should be a staple product in everyone’s skin health routine. UV radiation accounts for up to 90% of extrinsic damage incurred on the skin. The best-known way to prevent this sun damage to the skin is by using sunscreen.

_LEARN

/

REFERENCE LAB

July 15, 2023

Beyond UV Protection: 7 Surprising Ways Sunscreen Benefits Your Skin
If there’s one thing that dermatologists, estheticians, and medical professionals alike can agree on, sunscreen should be a staple product in everyone’s skin health routine. UV radiation accounts for up to 90% of extrinsic damage incurred on the skin. The best-known way to prevent this sun damage to the skin is by using sunscreen.
The Multifaceted Benefits of Sunscreen for Your Skin
If preserving the health of skin is the goal, sunscreen is the best known tool in our toolkit. From helping prevent skin cancer to keeping your skin barrier strong, sunscreen combines a number of beneficial properties into one convenient package. By incorporating sunscreen into your daily routine, you will not only protect your skin from harmful UV rays but also promote its overall health and enhance its appearance for years to come.
The Multifaceted Benefits of Sunscreen for Your Skin
If preserving the health of skin is the goal, sunscreen is the best known tool in our toolkit. From helping prevent skin cancer to keeping your skin barrier strong, sunscreen combines a number of beneficial properties into one convenient package. By incorporating sunscreen into your daily routine, you will not only protect your skin from harmful UV rays but also promote its overall health and enhance its appearance for years to come.
Sunscreen and Aging: How It Helps Defy Premature Aging
Prolonged and unprotected sun exposure can trigger a breakdown of key structural proteins in skin, namely collagen and elastin. Together, collagen and elastin form a network of fibers that keep the skin firm and smooth. Collagen provides a scaffold for the skin, while elastin allows the skin to maintain its shape and bounce back after being stretched [1]. Their breakdown leads to the accelerated development of fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging skin. While there are some ways to repair sun damage to the skin and its visible symptoms, it’s best to prevent as much skin damage as possible from occurring in the first place. By wearing sunscreen daily, you provide a vital layer of protection against UV radiation. Whether you prefer tinted vs untinted sunscreen, all sunscreens work by reflecting or absorbing harmful UV rays and preventing them from reaching and harming the skin’s DNA. As a result, the UV rays cannot reach and break down the collagen and elastin in skin, allowing your skin barrier to sustain its strength.
Sunscreen and Aging: How It Helps Defy Premature Aging
Prolonged and unprotected sun exposure can trigger a breakdown of key structural proteins in skin, namely collagen and elastin. Together, collagen and elastin form a network of fibers that keep the skin firm and smooth. Collagen provides a scaffold for the skin, while elastin allows the skin to maintain its shape and bounce back after being stretched [1]. Their breakdown leads to the accelerated development of fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging skin. While there are some ways to repair sun damage to the skin and its visible symptoms, it’s best to prevent as much skin damage as possible from occurring in the first place. By wearing sunscreen daily, you provide a vital layer of protection against UV radiation. Whether you prefer tinted vs untinted sunscreen, all sunscreens work by reflecting or absorbing harmful UV rays and preventing them from reaching and harming the skin’s DNA. As a result, the UV rays cannot reach and break down the collagen and elastin in skin, allowing your skin barrier to sustain its strength.
Preventing Sunspots: Sunscreen's Role in Hyperpigmentation Prevention
Another common aesthetic concern caused by UV rays is hyperpigmentation and sun spots, which are dark spots or patches on the skin. When the skin is exposed to the sun, it increases the production of melanin, the pigment responsible for skin’s color. Besides providing skin its color, melanin works to protect skin from sun damage by absorbing UV light to shield skin cells’ DNA from sun damage.
This is what leads to tanning, but excessive exposure can send melanin production into overdrive, leading to an uneven skin tone and the formation of dark spots. While the exact mechanism is unknown, it is likely that the same systems that result in skin cancer due to UV exposure are the same that result in hyperpigmentation. This is because the melanocytes of the skin then lack the negative-feedback loop that prevents the overproduction of melanin.2
Preventing Sunspots: Sunscreen's Role in Hyperpigmentation Prevention
Another common aesthetic concern caused by UV rays is hyperpigmentation and sun spots, which are dark spots or patches on the skin. When the skin is exposed to the sun, it increases the production of melanin, the pigment responsible for skin’s color. Besides providing skin its color, melanin works to protect skin from sun damage by absorbing UV light to shield skin cells’ DNA from sun damage.
This is what leads to tanning, but excessive exposure can send melanin production into overdrive, leading to an uneven skin tone and the formation of dark spots. While the exact mechanism is unknown, it is likely that the same systems that result in skin cancer due to UV exposure are the same that result in hyperpigmentation. This is because the melanocytes of the skin then lack the negative-feedback loop that prevents the overproduction of melanin.2
Sunscreen and Skin Cancer: Protecting Your Skin Health
Sunscreen is also able to significantly reduce the risk of developing skin cancer due to sun damage. UV radiation from the sun damages DNA in skin cells, which can lead to DNA mutations, some of which may cause uncontrolled cell growth. These abnormal cells can then develop into skin cancer, the three most common of which are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Basal cell carcinomas often look like a flesh-colored round growth, pearl-like bump, or a pinkish patch of skin, usually developing after years of frequent sun exposure or indoor tanning. Squamous cell carcinomas often look like a red firm bump, scaly patch, or a sore that heals and then reopens.
Lastly, melanomas, which are regarded as the most serious due to their tendency to spread, can develop within a mole that you already have on your skin or appear suddenly as a dark spot on the skin that looks different from the rest of your skin.3
By wearing sunscreen regularly, you reduce the amount of UV radiation that penetrates the skin, which in turn minimizes the risk of damage to your DNA and the subsequent development of skin cancer.
Sunscreen and Skin Cancer: Protecting Your Skin Health
Sunscreen is also able to significantly reduce the risk of developing skin cancer due to sun damage. UV radiation from the sun damages DNA in skin cells, which can lead to DNA mutations, some of which may cause uncontrolled cell growth. These abnormal cells can then develop into skin cancer, the three most common of which are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Basal cell carcinomas often look like a flesh-colored round growth, pearl-like bump, or a pinkish patch of skin, usually developing after years of frequent sun exposure or indoor tanning. Squamous cell carcinomas often look like a red firm bump, scaly patch, or a sore that heals and then reopens.
Lastly, melanomas, which are regarded as the most serious due to their tendency to spread, can develop within a mole that you already have on your skin or appear suddenly as a dark spot on the skin that looks different from the rest of your skin.3
By wearing sunscreen regularly, you reduce the amount of UV radiation that penetrates the skin, which in turn minimizes the risk of damage to your DNA and the subsequent development of skin cancer.
Daily Defense: Sunscreen's Contribution to Healthy Skin Barrier
Maintaining a healthy skin barrier is essential for overall skin health and function. The skin barrier acts as a protective shield, which keeps moisture in and environmental stressors out. While the skin barrier is made of multiple layers, the most critical to skin barrier function is the stratum corneum, the outermost layer of the epidermis. When damaged by sun exposure, the cells in the stratum corneum become weaker and lose their ability to bond with other cells. This is why sunburns often lead to skin peeling.
If the stratum corneum is compromised, the skin becomes more susceptible to damage, dehydration, and various skin conditions. When you apply sunscreen, it not only protects the stratum corneum from sun damage, it also helps bolster the skin barrier by forming a physical or chemical barrier to help prevent the penetration of pollutants, irritants, and allergens, reducing their potential impact on the skin. This is in large part due to the anti-inflammatory compounds frequently added to sunscreen.4 Furthermore, sunscreen can aid in preventing transepidermal water loss (TEWL), which occurs when water evaporates from the surface of the skin. This dehydration results in dryness, irritation, and impaired barrier function. By applying sunscreen regularly, you create a protective moisturizing seal that helps to reduce TEWL, thus improving the function of the skin barrier and subsequently preserving the skin's moisture content.5
Daily Defense: Sunscreen's Contribution to Healthy Skin Barrier
Maintaining a healthy skin barrier is essential for overall skin health and function. The skin barrier acts as a protective shield, which keeps moisture in and environmental stressors out. While the skin barrier is made of multiple layers, the most critical to skin barrier function is the stratum corneum, the outermost layer of the epidermis. When damaged by sun exposure, the cells in the stratum corneum become weaker and lose their ability to bond with other cells. This is why sunburns often lead to skin peeling.
If the stratum corneum is compromised, the skin becomes more susceptible to damage, dehydration, and various skin conditions. When you apply sunscreen, it not only protects the stratum corneum from sun damage, it also helps bolster the skin barrier by forming a physical or chemical barrier to help prevent the penetration of pollutants, irritants, and allergens, reducing their potential impact on the skin. This is in large part due to the anti-inflammatory compounds frequently added to sunscreen.4 Furthermore, sunscreen can aid in preventing transepidermal water loss (TEWL), which occurs when water evaporates from the surface of the skin. This dehydration results in dryness, irritation, and impaired barrier function. By applying sunscreen regularly, you create a protective moisturizing seal that helps to reduce TEWL, thus improving the function of the skin barrier and subsequently preserving the skin's moisture content.5
Sunscreen and Environmental Aggressors: Beyond UV Rays
Usually, when we think of sunscreen, the first thing that comes to mind is its use as protection from UV radiation. However, the benefits of sunscreen extend far beyond UV protection, as it can also serve as a defense against various environmental aggressors that can damage and age the skin.
The most common environmental aggressor you can expect to encounter is pollution, which includes airborne particles, smog, and toxins. These pollutants can make their way through a compromised skin barrier resulting in oxidative stress, inflammation, and premature aging.6 Skin that has been cleansed of pollution particles and protected with sunscreen gives your skin barrier the greatest opportunity to fight off skin disturbances.
With this barrier, sunscreen also serves to aid in protecting your skin from extreme environmental conditions like high or low moisture air. By acting as a seal, sunscreen can prevent your skin from drying out – keeping it at the optimal hydration. Many modern sunscreen formulations also include antioxidants that may aid in repairing oxidative stress from sun exposure. These antioxidative properties help boost your skin’s strength by counteracting oxidative stress in the skin.7 Also important in the digital era is sunscreen’s ability to block blue light from penetrating your skin and causing effects such as premature skin aging, and skin hyperpigmentation. It has been found that sunscreen containing zinc and iron oxides have been effective at reducing levels of blue light reaching the skin.8
Sunscreen and Environmental Aggressors: Beyond UV Rays
Usually, when we think of sunscreen, the first thing that comes to mind is its use as protection from UV radiation. However, the benefits of sunscreen extend far beyond UV protection, as it can also serve as a defense against various environmental aggressors that can damage and age the skin.
The most common environmental aggressor you can expect to encounter is pollution, which includes airborne particles, smog, and toxins. These pollutants can make their way through a compromised skin barrier resulting in oxidative stress, inflammation, and premature aging.6 Skin that has been cleansed of pollution particles and protected with sunscreen gives your skin barrier the greatest opportunity to fight off skin disturbances.
With this barrier, sunscreen also serves to aid in protecting your skin from extreme environmental conditions like high or low moisture air. By acting as a seal, sunscreen can prevent your skin from drying out – keeping it at the optimal hydration. Many modern sunscreen formulations also include antioxidants that may aid in repairing oxidative stress from sun exposure. These antioxidative properties help boost your skin’s strength by counteracting oxidative stress in the skin.7 Also important in the digital era is sunscreen’s ability to block blue light from penetrating your skin and causing effects such as premature skin aging, and skin hyperpigmentation. It has been found that sunscreen containing zinc and iron oxides have been effective at reducing levels of blue light reaching the skin.8
Sunscreen for Hydration: Keeping Your Skin Moisturized
When it comes to maintaining skin health, hydration is a vital factor. So, while sunscreen is mainly known for its sun protection capabilities, it also plays a role in keeping your skin well-hydrated and moisturized. Popular sunscreen formulas often contain moisturizing ingredients that help nourish and hydrate the skin, such as humectants like glycerin and hyaluronic acid. These two humectants attract and retain moisture in the skin. Knowing which ingredients are safe for skin and which sunscreen ingredients to avoid is important to make informed choices about the products you apply to your skin.
Sunscreen for Hydration: Keeping Your Skin Moisturized
When it comes to maintaining skin health, hydration is a vital factor. So, while sunscreen is mainly known for its sun protection capabilities, it also plays a role in keeping your skin well-hydrated and moisturized. Popular sunscreen formulas often contain moisturizing ingredients that help nourish and hydrate the skin, such as humectants like glycerin and hyaluronic acid. These two humectants attract and retain moisture in the skin. Knowing which ingredients are safe for skin and which sunscreen ingredients to avoid is important to make informed choices about the products you apply to your skin.
Sunscreen for Confidence: Enhancing Your Skin's Appearance
It’s clear that daily use of sunscreen is one of the single best ways to keep skin healthy, a consequence of which is better looking skin. This makes sunscreen one of the best ways to maintain skin’s appearance, especially over time. From minimizing sunspots to preventing premature aging, sunscreen helps you maintain a youthful and glowing appearance. While sunscreen is not a standalone solution for achieving clear and flawless skin, it should be top priority in your skin routine. In addition to a peptide sunscreen, other healthy skin care habits include cleansing with a gentle gel cleanser, moisturizing with topical products such as peptide face moisturizers or peptide body lotion, and applying other targeted treatments that will accomodate your skin type.
Sunscreen for Confidence: Enhancing Your Skin's Appearance
It’s clear that daily use of sunscreen is one of the single best ways to keep skin healthy, a consequence of which is better looking skin. This makes sunscreen one of the best ways to maintain skin’s appearance, especially over time. From minimizing sunspots to preventing premature aging, sunscreen helps you maintain a youthful and glowing appearance. While sunscreen is not a standalone solution for achieving clear and flawless skin, it should be top priority in your skin routine. In addition to a peptide sunscreen, other healthy skin care habits include cleansing with a gentle gel cleanser, moisturizing with topical products such as peptide face moisturizers or peptide body lotion, and applying other targeted treatments that will accomodate your skin type.
How to add Sunscreen to your daily routine
Finding a convenient way to add sunscreen into your daily skin care routine will help ensure that you are protecting your skin all year round. Below are some practical steps to help you seamlessly add sunscreen to your daily regimen:
  • Choose the right sunscreen: First, find a broad spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA rays and UVB rays. Then, consider the specific needs of your skin, such as its sensitivity or dryness. Finally, choose a sunscreen lotion with an SPF of at least 30 or higher for adequate protection [9]. Opting for a mineral sunscreen vs chemical sunscreen will help ensure that harmful chemicals aren’t absorbed into your body over time.
  • Use the right amount: Wondering how much sunscreen to use on your face? As a general guideline, you should use about a nickel-sized amount for your face and an amount equivalent to a shot glass for your body. Additionally, it is helpful to know the difference between face vs body sunscreen to ensure that you are using the right type of sunscreen for each specific area of your body. By applying the correct amount, you ensure the stated SPF coverage and help maintain an even coating across all of your skin.
  • Proper timing: Sunscreen should be the final step in your skincare routine after cleansing, toning, and moisturizing, and before makeup. This allows the sunscreen to create a protective barrier on your skin's surface. You should give your skin care products a few minutes to absorb and dry before applying sunscreen to ensure optimal efficacy.
Remember, sunscreen is not exclusive to the beach or sunny days — it's a year-round necessity for protecting your skin from the damaging effects of exposure to the sun's rays. Sunscreen during winter can be just as important as during the summer, as the sun's harmful UV rays can still reach your skin, even on overcast days. This is especially true if you participate in winter sports, like skiing and snowboarding. So, make it a habit to apply sunscreen daily to keep your skin healthy and shielded from sun damage regardless of the season.
How to add Sunscreen to your daily routine
Finding a convenient way to add sunscreen into your daily skin care routine will help ensure that you are protecting your skin all year round. Below are some practical steps to help you seamlessly add sunscreen to your daily regimen:
  • Choose the right sunscreen: First, find a broad spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA rays and UVB rays. Then, consider the specific needs of your skin, such as its sensitivity or dryness. Finally, choose a sunscreen lotion with an SPF of at least 30 or higher for adequate protection [9]. Opting for a mineral sunscreen vs chemical sunscreen will help ensure that harmful chemicals aren’t absorbed into your body over time.
  • Use the right amount: Wondering how much sunscreen to use on your face? As a general guideline, you should use about a nickel-sized amount for your face and an amount equivalent to a shot glass for your body. Additionally, it is helpful to know the difference between face vs body sunscreen to ensure that you are using the right type of sunscreen for each specific area of your body. By applying the correct amount, you ensure the stated SPF coverage and help maintain an even coating across all of your skin.
  • Proper timing: Sunscreen should be the final step in your skincare routine after cleansing, toning, and moisturizing, and before makeup. This allows the sunscreen to create a protective barrier on your skin's surface. You should give your skin care products a few minutes to absorb and dry before applying sunscreen to ensure optimal efficacy.
Remember, sunscreen is not exclusive to the beach or sunny days — it's a year-round necessity for protecting your skin from the damaging effects of exposure to the sun's rays. Sunscreen during winter can be just as important as during the summer, as the sun's harmful UV rays can still reach your skin, even on overcast days. This is especially true if you participate in winter sports, like skiing and snowboarding. So, make it a habit to apply sunscreen daily to keep your skin healthy and shielded from sun damage regardless of the season.
Key Takeaways
  • Sunscreen helps minimize premature aging by protecting collagen and elastin.
  • Sunscreen helps prevent the development of skin cancer.
  • A healthy skin barrier is essential for overall skin health and function.
  • Sunscreen boost to the skin barrier helps protect against environmental aggressors such as pollution.
  • Sunscreen is usually paired with humectants that help keep your skin moisturized.
Key Takeaways
  • Sunscreen helps minimize premature aging by protecting collagen and elastin.
  • Sunscreen helps prevent the development of skin cancer.
  • A healthy skin barrier is essential for overall skin health and function.
  • Sunscreen boost to the skin barrier helps protect against environmental aggressors such as pollution.
  • Sunscreen is usually paired with humectants that help keep your skin moisturized.
By Felix Tajanko. Felix is studying Bioengineering at the University of California - San Diego and is passionate about scientific writing as well as the research of hormones and microhemodynamics.
By Felix Tajanko. Felix is studying Bioengineering at the University of California - San Diego and is passionate about scientific writing as well as the research of hormones and microhemodynamics.

Reviewed by Alessandra Zonari, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) and Co-Founder of OneSkin

Alessandra earned her Master’s degree in stem cell biology, and her PhD in skin regeneration and tissue engineering at the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil in collaboration with the 3B’s Research Group in Portugal. Alessandra did a second post-doctoral at the University of Coimbra in Portugal. She is a co-inventor of three patents and has published 20 peer-reviewed papers in scientific journals.

Reviewed by Alessandra Zonari, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) and Co-Founder of OneSkin

Alessandra earned her Master’s degree in stem cell biology, and her PhD in skin regeneration and tissue engineering at the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil in collaboration with the 3B’s Research Group in Portugal. Alessandra did a second post-doctoral at the University of Coimbra in Portugal. She is a co-inventor of three patents and has published 20 peer-reviewed papers in scientific journals.

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