Lying on the beach in the summer sun and getting that nice tan is an inviting thought for many.
Some are simply outdoorsy and that, more often than not, means being out in the sun. Some others just cannot avoid being in the sun even if they wanted to.
Whichever the case, if you’re going out in the sun, make sure you’re slathering generous amounts of sunscreen on your skin.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s sunny or cloudy, summer, monsoon or winter, you cannot be skipping the sunscreen. Why? Here are 10 surprisingly important reasons!
1. To Protect The Skin From Harmful UV Radiation
While the ozone layer of the earth protects us from most of the harmful UV radiation emitted by the sun, unfortunately, there’s still a lot of it that still gets through.
UV radiation penetrates deep into the skin and is known to cause several skin disorders.
Sunscreens are formulated such that they either dissipate the UV radiation or block them altogether. Chemical sunscreens absorb the UV radiation and distribute the solar energy which escapes from the skin’s surface.
They contain active ingredients such as oxybenzone and avobenzone that convert light energy to heat which gets released from the body.
On the other hand, physical sunscreens, also known as physical sunblock, physically block out the sun.
They contain natural compounds like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide that reflect the UV radiation thereby protecting the skin from its damage.
The choice of sunscreen may vary from person to person based on skin color, skin type, and personal preference between natural and synthetic ingredients.
2. To Lower the Risk of Skin Cancers
While you do need some amount of sun for your daily dose of vitamin D to stay healthy, too much can be ruinous to your health.
Doctors believe that a number of deadly cancers like melanoma are caused primarily due to sun exposure. This makes sunscreen an absolute must for those who spend lots of time in the sun.
3. To Prevent Premature Wrinkles
Sun exposure causes photoaging which is the premature appearance of aging signs on the skin. Premature wrinkles are the most common among them.
Sun exposure increases free radicals that cause oxidation and skin damage to make the skin look leathery and old.
Elastin and collagen tissues in the skin are responsible for the regeneration of skin cells which maintain its elasticity.
UV radiation penetrates deep through the layers of the skin to damage these tissues causing wrinkles to appear faster than your age should allow!
4. To Prevent Sunspots and Age Spots
The skin produces melanin – the skin pigment – in cells called melanocytes. UV radiation penetrates into the skin and triggers the melanocytes to become overactive.
This deregulates melanin production leading to higher concentrations of melanin in certain areas.
This abnormal melanin distribution manifests as sunspots and age spots on the face, neck and arms – the areas of the skin most exposed to the sun.
5. To Prevent Skin Tanning
Continuous exposure to the sun can also darken the overall skin tone with increased melanin production. The skin increases melanin to protect the body from UV damage but the skin takes the brunt of it!
While tanning is attractive for some, for most people it’s the unintentional side effect of being out in the sun. Uneven tanning with sharp tan-lines can actually be unattractive and undesirable.
An effective sunscreen protects the skin from excess melanin production. In fact, whitening sunscreen can even reverse skin darkening and restore your natural skin tone.
6. To Protect the Skin From Sunburns
While a tan only darkens the skin and changes the aesthetics of the skin, sunburns are actually painful. Sun exposure reduces the skin’s strength leading to inflammation with peeling, redness, hives, and swelling.
This is, more often than not, accompanied by a stinging, itching, burning sensation. Sunburns also correlate with the risk of skin cancers.
7. To Protect the Skin From Sensitivities
Sun exposure lowers the skin’s immunity making it prone to sensitivities and skin flares like eczema, photodermatitis, rosacea, and psoriasis.
Some may even develop sun allergies or solar urticaria with rashes, hives, and itching.
Sunscreen is not just crucial for those who have sensitivities directly related to sun exposure but also for those who have general skin sensitivities.
It is also especially important for those who have acne-prone skin. UV radiation increases the oxidative stress in the skin which weakens it and makes it easier for acne-causing bacteria to invade the skin.
8. To Protect the Skin’s Natural Moisture Barrier
The skin has a natural moisture barrier that protects it and keeps the skin supple and plump. It also maintains a healthy microbiome of beneficial skin bacteria that encourage skin cell growth and repair.
Excessive sun exposure weakens and compromises this natural barrier making the skin prone to damage. The skin becomes dry, dehydrated, and prone to inflammation.
The microbiome loses its healthy balance making the skin prone to harmful bacterial attacks.
9. To Encourage Skin Health
Many sunscreens are formulated not just to form a protective veil from UV radiation but also to nourish the skin.
Some sunscreens come rich in moisturizing ingredients such as shea butter and essential botanical oils to restore and strengthen the natural moisture barrier.
They soothe and pacify the skin to prevent inflammation and promote skin healing and repair.
A whitening sunscreen or sunblock may also contain antioxidants that reverse free radical damage. This can lead to fading of scars, sunspots, and tans to brighten the skin and give it an even tone.
Some sunscreens are also fortified with probiotics which are healthy skin bacteria.
They support the skin’s natural microbiome to encourage healthy and younger looking skin.
10. Sometimes Clothing May Not Give You Enough Sun Protection
Some clothing like thin, light fabric may not provide sufficient sun protection. This means that you may need sunscreen even under some of your clothes.
This is especially true with most wet fabrics. They let in the UV radiation so you may need to double up with some extra SPF from your sunscreen.