Yes! Sun protection is a year-round priority for all skin types.  The sun’s rays are present even in winter, particularly UVA, which causes aging and contributes to skin cancer.  And skin cancer risk is cumulative. So whether your skin sees 5 minutes of UV light per day for 20 years or a few hours of UV once a year, the damage is done.   We have known for a long time that good sun protection helps prevent skin cancer and photoaging. There is now evidence that daily sunscreen use can actually reverse signs of aging by allowing skin to heal photo damage that is already present. In a recent prospective study, 32 patients began applying sunscreen daily.1  After 3 months, both patients and dermatologists found visible improvements in skin texture, clarity, and pigmentation. Over the entire year of the study, patients had continued improvement in their skin. It is thought that by protecting the skin from new damage, you allow it to heal old damage and look younger. A second study from Australia found lasting benefit from daily sunscreen use. Patients randomly assigned to use daily sunscreen showed no new photoaging after 4.5 years and 24% less visible photoaging compared to a second group of people who used sunscreen only occasionally.2   Important principles of sun protection include:

  1. Avoid
    • If possible, stay indoors or seek shade during peak sun hours
    • Shadow rule: if your shadow is shorter than you are, the sun is more directly positioned overhead and you are receiving more direct UV rays
  2. Block
    • Wear a wide brimmed hat (ideally a 6” brim all around)
    • Wear sunglasses with UV protection that block 99 or 100% of UVA and UVB rays. Wrap around style or glasses with side protectors are best to prevent UV rays from reaching your eyes from the side
  3. Screen
    • Choose a sunscreen that meets the 3 American Academy of Dermatology criteria: broad spectrum (UVA and UVB), SPF 30 or higher, & water resistant for 40 or 80 minutes
    • Pure mineral sunscreen is the preferred form of sunscreen. Mineral sunscreen provides a physical barrier to the sun’s rays, dispersing and reflecting UV light
    • Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are the only two active sunscreen ingredients the FDA can currently say are generally regarded as safe and effective
    • Sunscreen should be reapplied at least every 2 hours or more frequently when sweating or in the water
    • A pigmented sunscreen with iron oxide has the additional benefit of blocking blue light (high energy visible light) emitted from the sun, screens, fluorescent, and LED lighting

Here are a few of my favorite sunscreens:

  1. SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50
  2. BabyBum SPF 50 mineral sunscreen lotion
  3. LaRoche Posay Anthelios SPF 50 mineral sunscreen – gentle lotion
  4. Sunbetter mineral stick from SkinBetter Science

1https://annals.org/aim/article-abstract/1691733/sunscreen-prevention-skin-aging-randomized-trial 2https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27749441