As a dermatologist, I’m a huge proponent of wearing sunscreen every day. It protects our skin from sun damage that can lead to health conditions and premature wrinkling or aging. I often hear challenges that keep people from wearing sunscreen every day. Here are the five most popular reasons I hear and how you can work around these challenges to take better care of your skin.
Reason No. 1: “I don’t have skin damage; I don’t have any visible dark or brown spots.”
Sun damage is not always visible to the naked eye and people are often shocked by the amount of sun damage they have when looking through a UV camera. Just watch this video below:
The darker your natural skin color, the more natural protection you have. However, even individuals with darker skin get discolorations from sun damage and can get skin cancer. Sun-induced discolorations and pigment abnormalities are often more difficult to treat (and less easily camouflaged) in those with darker skin.
Reason No. 2: “I don’t wear sunscreen because it burns.”
Sunscreen is available in two major categories: physical blockers and chemical blockers. Physical blockers (zinc oxide and titanium oxide are minerals that sit on top of the skin) typically do not “burn” the skin or eyes, and are great for sensitive skin. Some notice a slight whitening effect, but new micronized forms typically blend well (compared to the old physical blockers you might remember seeing on the noses of lifeguards). If a whitening sheen is still visible, consider using makeup over it or finding a tinted physical blocking sunscreen. Chemical sunscreens are very effective and do not produce a whitening sheen, but they are slightly more likely to sting or cause allergic reactions.
Reason No. 3: “I don’t wear sunscreen because I forget to put it on.”
Make it part of your daily morning routine and there will be no reason to forget to put sunscreen on at least once a day. Find a daily moisturizer with a broad spectrum sunscreen, at least SPF 30 or higher, and use it daily. The best sunscreen is the one you like and that you’ll actually use daily.
Just remember, reapplying sunscreen is important if you are sweating, swimming, or outside for more than 2 hours.
Reason No. 4: “It’s winter, I don’t need to wear sunscreen!”
Although it is rare to get a sunburn in the winter or through glass (such as car windows), you can still get sun damage from UV reflected off snow or through glass. Glass only blocks UVB “burning” radiation, but it does not block UVA “aging” radiation. Both forms of UV can cause aging, wrinkling, and skin cancer. It’s best to wear sunscreen every day, all year round. (Click here to read more about winter skin care.)
Reason No. 5: “I don’t wear sunscreen because it’s too greasy.”
Chemical sunscreens are more likely to be oily or leave a shine as compared to mineral sunscreens. Using a mineral makeup over the sunscreen, oil absorbing sheet, or a shine-reducing sunscreen (e.g. Neutrogena Dry Touch”) can minimize this concern. There are many sunscreens on the market, and again, the best one if the one you like and will actually use daily that is broad spectrum, at least SPF 30 or higher.
Matthew Molenda, MD, FAAD, is a ProMedica Physician specializing in dermatology and dermatologic surgery. Prior to moving back to his hometown, Toledo, he completed his dermatology residency training at The Ohio State University, and pursued a fellowship in advanced surgical training at the Cleveland Clinic Dermatology and Plastic Surgery Institute. He has special interests in skin cancer, skin surgery, cosmetic surgery, lasers, injectable cosmetics, sun damage, and acne management.