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Sunscreen: Every Day and All Year Round!

The harmful effects of UV rays on the skin are now well known. While some people, no longer go out without applying their sunscreen and do not hesitate to reapply it regularly even in the middle of winter, others consider it unnecessary except for sunny days and beach outings. What is it really?

Sunscreen All Year Round? Ideas Differ.

The use of sunscreen all year round is a subject of debate. It's true that everyone agrees on the harmful effects of UV rays on the skin: premature aging of the epidermis, appearance of dark spots and wrinkles, increased risk of skin cancer, skin burns, etc. However, many people think that skin protection against ultraviolet rays is only necessary in case of prolonged exposure to the sun (tanning sessions on the beach, water activities, etc.) and only during summer. Indeed, some people still hesitate to apply sunscreen regularly.

To justify this, some people believe that sunscreen should only be applied during the sunny days and that it is useless to apply sunscreen when it is cloudy because the sun is hidden, or even indoors because the UV rays do not pass through the windows. Others point the finger at the chemical ingredients that make up sun creams. Indeed, some skins can react badly to certain substances contained in certain sun creams. In addition, the risks linked to the presence of endocrine disruptors in certain sun care products are the subject of much discussion and have chilled some. For these reasons, consumers prefer to limit their use to summer afternoons.

Why Wear Sun Protection?

Contrary to popular belief, UV rays can penetrate clouds and even windows (especially UVA rays). These rays are the number 1 enemy of the epidermis because: 

  • They accelerate skin aging (thickening of the epidermis, skin dryness, loss of elasticity, appearance of wrinkles, fine lines and dark spots, loss of radiance, dilation of blood vessels, etc.);

  • They are the cause of sunburn;

  • They can cause skin cancer.

However, applying a sun cream will create a protective screen against UV rays. It prevents UVA and UVB rays from penetrating the skin and causing damage.

And if you are still not convinced of the harmful effects of the sun on the skin, look at this picture. It's a portrait of a 69-year-old milk deliveryman who spent 28 years behind the wheel. The left side of his face has aged at an accelerated rate under the effects of the sun (photoaging). Indeed, this part of his face was regularly exposed to UV rays through the window of his truck. While his right profile appears much less marked, smoother and healthier, his left face is more damaged, wrinkled, the skin is thicker and looser and the furrows accentuated. These marks were caused by UVA rays, which can penetrate deep into the skin beyond the epidermis where they are capable of destroying elastin and collagen fibers, and altering DNA.

That's why it's important to apply sunscreen every day and all year round, reapply it regularly (every two hours) for optimal protection of the skin against the sun's harmful rays, especially when the sun is at its peak, between 11am and 3pm. This is the time when the rays are most dangerous, especially if you are outdoors. Moreover, don't neglect any part of the body that may be directly exposed.

BRIEVA J. C. & al. Unilateral dermatoheliosis. The New England Journal of Medecine (2012).

Sources

  • BRIEVA J. C. & al. Unilateral dermatoheliosis. The New England Journal of Medecine (2012).

  • BUABBAS H. & al. Photoprotection: clothing and glass. Dermatologic Clinics (2014).

  • WHITEMAN D. & al. Cancers in Australia attributable to exposure to solar ultraviolet radiation and prevented by regular sunscreen use. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health (2015).

  • LIM H. W. & al. Sunscreens: An update. American Journal of Clinical Dermatology (2017).

  • LINOS E. & al. Sunscreens, cancer, and protecting our planet. The Lancet Planetary Health (2018).

  • WHITEMAN D. C. & al. How many melanomas might be prevented if more people applied sunscreen regularly ? British Journal of Dermatology (2018).

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