Patients often wonder: Is sunscreen actually needed? Our Philadelphia-area team recommends wearing sunscreen every day, regardless of the weather conditions.
Other than genetic aging, excessive sun exposure is known to be the leading cause of skin damage. Ultraviolet rays increase the risk of skin damage and also accelerate premature aging. Although sun protection is particularly important in the summer when the sun’s intensity is highest, UV rays can penetrate cloud cover on overcast days and still cause sunburn or other forms of damage to the skin. While UV rays are less powerful in winter, the sun does continue to cause burns and damage to the skin in cold weather—especially when reflecting off of surfaces such as snow and ice.
This means skimping on sunscreen or skipping it altogether is one of the worst habits for your skin. Sunscreens work by absorbing and/or reflecting the sun’s rays. SPF, which stands for “Sun Protection Factor,” is a number that indicates how effectively the sunscreen will protect your skin against sun damage. It’s always best to choose a sunscreen that is broad-spectrum (meaning it provides protection against both UVA and UVB rays) and is SPF 30 or higher for daily use.
While you shouldn’t depend on sunscreen on its own (you should still avoid peak UV hours, wear protective clothing, and take other preventative measures), it remains one of the most critical aspects of an effective sun protection strategy and daily skin care routine for several reasons.
For example, wearing sunscreen as directed every day significantly lowers the risk of getting skin cancers and pre-cancerous lesions. Your risk of squamous cell carcinoma is lowered by 40 percent and melanoma—the deadliest form of skin cancer—by 50 percent.
If you want to continue to have youthful-looking skin, using sunscreen regularly can help you with your goal. Sunscreen helps to stop common effects of aging that are linked to sun exposure, like wrinkles, sagging, sunspots, other pigmentation irregularities, dry skin, spider veins, and uneven texture.
Is sunscreen actually needed? Contact Philadelphia-area facial plastic surgeon Dr. Timothy Greco for more advice on the best skin care practices to preserve healthy, youthful skin. Call us at (610) 664-8830 or fill out a contact form if you would like to request a consultation. You can also shop for sunscreens that hydrate and protect in our online Greco MD Clinical Skincare store.