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Most sunscreens leave you a greasy mess. And nothing ruins a beach day like having to rub cream all over your body every 60 minutes—except maybe massaging a bunch of ground-up shells and chemical-filled, coconut-scented lotion into your slightly burnt skin.
Despite the inconvenience, sunscreen is necessary! Luckily, new spray sunscreens like make the whole process easier (and more enjoyable). Which is great, because sunscreen isn't just for beachy vacays. You should be wearing it all day. EVERY DAY. Yes, even in winter, spring, and fall. Why is there such a need… a need for 'screen? We went straight to some dermatologists and skin experts to find out.
1. You Don't Want Cancer, Right?
"Sunscreen should be worn every day, regardless of the weather or plans for outdoor activities," says , dermatologist and member of the American Academy of Dermatology. Too much exposure to the sun greatly increases your chances of skin cancer, according to the . Thankfully, skin cancer can be mostly avoided by protecting your skin from the sun's harmful rays.
"Daily sunscreens are vital because we get the majority of our sun exposure not when we go to the beach or the pool but when we're driving in the car and walking to work," says Paul Naoum, co-founder and lead instructor of Esthetics and Cosmetology. As it turns out, sometimes those short bursts of sunshine are the most harmful: According to , short, intense exposure to the sun puts you at the highest risk of melanoma.
2. Cloudy Days Are Just As Dangerous
Clouds do not equal sun protection. Even when it's cold and rainy, some UV rays make it to the ground. Now, some clouds will block most of these rays, but some clouds will reflect the rays and actually increase your chances of sunburn, according to the .
And if you're up in the mountains, even if there's no sun to be seen, you have to be careful. Snow reflects the UV rays and makes them more intense. Then there's the fact that more UV rays hit the ground when you're at higher elevations, according to the ACS. So even if you're wrapped up in a parka, it's extremely important to apply and reapply sunscreen.
3. Windows Won't Protect You
You're sitting in your car, enjoying the musical stylings of Jordan Knight's solo career, while sun pours through the window. "Ha, sun! My slightly tinted windows will surely keep me safe from your harmful embrace!" Unfortunately, the sun is giving you a serious dose of UV rays.
"UVA rays can penetrate windows," says , a Yale-trained dermatologist.
How does this happen? Well, the sun sends down UVA and UVB rays. UVB rays are responsible for sunburns, while UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin. Though they don't cause burns, they still do damage.
Windows happily block UVB rays, but those tricky UVA ones still get through. That's why you might not get a sunburn after a long drive, but the effects of the rays show up over time.
Arthur brought up some startling evidence reported in . The journal showed a photo of a man who drove a truck for 25 years. One half of his face looked smooth and fairly wrinkle free for his age, while his other half looked at least 10 years older. That half was exposed to the sun through a truck window for 25 years, and the sun damage is visible.
That's why it's important to choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen like , which protects you from both UVA and UVB rays.
4. Sunscreen Isn't Gross and Greasy Anymore
One of the biggest reasons people don't wear sunscreen is that they don't want to feel like they're covered in grease. But sunscreens have come a long way. , for instance, sprays on and dries in seconds, so you can use it all over the body without any greasy aftermath—in fact, it feels like you're wearing nothing at all. It doesn't contain oxybenzone and parabens (which have been linked to ), and the ingenious bottle uses only compressed air to power the spray, so your skin stays free of chemical propellants too.
Klein also suggests covering a few key areas of the skin that are usually forgotten. "The neck and tops of the hands are frequently neglected, as are the ears," she says. This skin can get burned just like any other area of the body, so it's important to give your ears, hands, and neck a little sunblock love too.
And if you're going out for errands in the middle of the day or spend much of your time outside, you've got to reapply, Klein says. protects for at least 80 minutes of sun exposure (even in the water), so an extra spray around lunchtime should keep your skin looking its best.
There's one other thing that keeps a lot of people from a proper sunscreen regimen: the smell. Even if you love piña coladas, you probably don't love smelling like one. 's scents (grapefruit, pear, pineapple) are light, refreshing, and natural.
5. You Can Take Years Off Your Skin
"Daily sunscreen use can prevent skin aging," says Arthur. She mentions a that compared daily sunscreen use to occasional (or "only when I really need it") use. "After four and a half years, the group who wore sunscreen when they thought they needed it had a significant increase in brown spots and fine lines," she says. "But the daily sunscreen group showed no detectable signs of skin aging."
Forget about Botox; just use sunblock! A study published in found that regular use of sunscreen not only prevented damage but reversed previous damage.
It's clear everyday sunblock will help keep your skin safe and youthful. But what type is best? Klein says that SPF 30 is perfect for everyday use. There's no reason to go crazy and get SPF 100. "The anything with an SPF over 50 because nothing above 50 is any more effective than an SPF 50," Naoum says.
Hint sunscreen is available at Target stores, , and .