PSA: Sunscreen Makes You Age Better


This story ran as a part of Sun Week on ITG, a celebration dedicated to the one part of your beauty routine you can't opt out of: sun protection. (Lipstick is fun and all, but never life or death). We also launched Glossier's very own version. Explore more Sun Week content here. The future's so bright, gotta wear sunscreen.

The sun and your skin are not friends. They are not even acquaintances. The sun is Mariah Carey and your skin is Jennifer Lopez—when introduced to each other at, say, a beach on a sunny day, or at the Billboard Music Awards, they will clash. That's why you need a buffer to neutralize both parties. Mariah and Jennifer have Andy Cohen, mercifully, and lucky you, you have sunscreen. Use it, treasure it, and never let it go.

Because here's what happens when UVA (deeply penetrating) and UVB (surface burning) rays come in contact with your skin: first, a pleasant sunshine sensation, then an unpleasant burning and unsightly redness. On the cellular level, there's melanin, which is a naturally occuring chemical there to protect your skin from sun damage. When your melanin is overloaded, though, burns happen. With religious aloe application, the pain and peeling will fade—but those burns add up over time and could come back to get you in the end.

It's the damage that occurs beneath your skin that is proven to age you, via fine lines, sagging skin, discoloration, and a host of other scary things, not to mention increased risk of skin cancer. If only there was one magical product that could protect your skin from UVA and UVB rays. Some kind of... screen, between your face and the oppressive sun?

Just kidding, you already know about sunscreen. But if sunscreen can help prevent all those things, why isn't it marketed as what it is: a preventative anti-aging product?

Anti-aging is maybe the biggest boon of the beautysphere—vague promises of a more youthful appearence earn the skincare industry billions of dollars a year. And many ingredients actually can help diminish signs of aging, like retinol. (Which, incidentally, you should always use in conjunction with sunscreen) Collagen and elastin loss happens naturally—there's little we can do to avoid it—but the best skincare is preventative, which positions sunscreen as the most essential and most accessible anti-aging product there is. And you can buy it at CVS.

If you need additional convincing, Google "sunscreen and aging" and go from there. Or you can heed the words of Mariacarla Boscono, a 36-year-old woman who swears by SPF and, as a result, gets carded at restaurants. (We imagine.) Gwyneth applies daily, Kelly Rowland "believes in sunscreen", and both look phenomenal—not just "for their ages" but for any age. This is not to say that SPF will make you wrinkle-free, or take your wrinkles away, but over time, it is proven to mitigate sun damage that does age you. The time for SPF is not tomorrow, or next week. It's yesterday.

Sun protection is not limited to sunscreen, either. There are other, more obvious ways to shield yourself from the sun, like... staying inside. Or investing in a beach umbrella. Your best defense is a little bit of everything (prolonged sun exposure, no matter how often you apply zinc oxide, is dicey) but it's important to bring up "reflected and indirect" UV rays, which are real and terrifying. A March 2017 study took two groups to the beach, one armed with umbrellas and the other with sunscreen, and found more burn in the umbrella group. That's not to say the shade won't protect you (and there were incidences of sunburns in both groups) but it's worth pointing out. Don't shoot the messenger! Just giving you facts.

As for what to buy, another study published this year by the Journal of the American Medical Association (conducted through interviews with dermatologists) says the magic number is SPF 30, or higher. The medical jury is divided on what the ideal factor is, but, as Dr. Steven Wang explains much more eloquently than we could ever hope to, the consensus is to stick between 30 and 50 for optimum coverage. There are product recommendations littered all over this website, plus one more addition to the mix coming soon. But in the end, it doesn't matter which one you pick.

It matters that you pick one.

Photo via ITG.

Hey! Sun Week is shining strong. Read more over here.

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