Does Sunscreen Prevent Wrinkles?

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Sunscreen – you’ve surely been told at some point or another that it’s important for skin cancer prevention. But, you may not be aware of the wealth of anti-aging benefits that sunscreen has to offer. Specifically, sunscreen can help you ward off wrinkles for smooth, supple skin into older age.

This article will cover everything you need to know about sunscreen use for wrinkle prevention, including the best types and applications of SPF.

Does Sunscreen Really Prevent Aging?

Can Sunscreen Prevent Wrinkles?

Sunscreen prevents wrinkles by blocking out the sun’s rays. The sun emits UVA rays, UVB rays, and UVC rays. UVA rays, in particular, can speed up the skin aging process. They do so by increasing the skin’s production of metalloproteinases, which are enzymes that damage the skin’s collagen and elastin.

applying sunscreen

Collagen and elastin are proteins that help keep the skin firm, strong, and elastic. Damage to these proteins from UV radiation can lead to wrinkles, discoloration, and sagging skin, among other signs of aging.

Additionally, UV radiation causes compounds, such as cytokines, to release into the epidermis. These compounds move to the deeper layers of the skin and trigger blood vessel dilation. As these blood vessels expand, the skin takes on a pink or red hue in people with light skin tones.

When darker skin tones are exposed to the sun, melanin within the skin prevents damage. However, contrary to popular belief, people with darker skin can still get a sunburn, it’s just not as visible. [1]

Aging With and Without Sunscreen

Sunscreen vs No Sunscreen

The difference between wearing sunscreen and no sunscreen is simple. Without sunscreen, the sun’s harsh UV rays will be able to penetrate your skin. This can lead to sunburn while increasing your risk of skin cancer and photoaging.

lady at the shore

With sunscreen, your skin is shielded from the sun’s rays. Just make sure to apply it generously and reapply every two hours if you’re spending time outside.

Wearing Sunscreen Everyday Results: Before and After

A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine revealed that people who wear broad-spectrum sunscreen every day experience 24% less skin aging than people who don’t wear sunscreen consistently. [2]

Additionally, the brand Supergoop tested out their sunscreen products by having two women who use vitamin C and retinol, respectively, start applying sunscreen every day. The results? Within two months, the women noticed more even skin tone and improved hydration. [3]

Does Sunscreen Prevent Skin Cancer (Including Melanoma)?

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, approximately 9,500 people in the United States are diagnosed with skin cancer each day. [4] To reduce your risk of this prevalent condition, it’s crucial to apply sunscreen daily.

fit woman in summer

Approximately 90% of non-melanoma skin cancers and 65% of melanomas are associated with UV radiation from the sun. [5] With these statistics in mind, sunscreen is a key component of skin cancer prevention.

One study showed a 40% lower incidence of squamous cell carcinoma among participants who applied sunscreen daily. This study also revealed a significantly lower risk of invasive melanoma among these participants. [6]

Is Sunscreen Good for Your Skin?

Why is SPF good for your skin?

Sunscreen is good for your skin because it curbs the development of visible signs of aging and skin cancer. Adding sunscreen to your daily skincare routine is one of the easiest and most effective ways to prevent wrinkles.

a pretty woman in the sun

Specific ingredients in chemical sunscreens have raised safety concerns. However, you can rest assured that most potentially dangerous chemicals in sunscreens have been banned in the United States.

To steer clear of chemical risks, you can always opt for mineral sunscreens (most dermatologists prefer them, anyway). [7]

Start Wearing Sun Protection With SPF According to Age

Many people assume that as they get older, they need to use a higher SPF to protect against facial aging. However, at any age, adults are recommended to wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. [8]

With that said, many people only start to apply sunscreen on areas such as the hands and décolletage in their 40s and beyond. Once you start to notice wrinkles, sagging skin, and age spots in these areas, you may be inclined to protect them with SPF. But, of course, applying sunscreen to these areas earlier in adulthood will help prevent wrinkles before they develop.

RELATED: Best Anti-Aging Cream

How To Use Sunblock To Prevent UV Damage and Signs of Photoaging

For the best protection against UV damage and photoaging, make sure to apply sunscreen in the morning, whether or not you’re heading outside. UV radiation can still reach you through the windows! Additionally, apply sunscreen regardless of the weather, as UV rays are still present on cloudy, rainy, and even snowy days.

protection for summer

Apply sunscreen to all exposed skin. This includes your ears, neck, legs, and the area around your eyes.

If you’re spending time outside, reapply sunscreen every two hours. If you’re sweating or in contact with water, make sure to reapply sunscreen every 40 to 80 minutes. [9]

Types of Sunscreen and Products With SPF

You can get SPF into your skincare regimen in several ways. For one, there are two main types of sunscreen: physical and chemical.

Physical sunscreen protects against sun damage with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Also known as mineral sunscreens, this type of sunscreen works by forming a layer on top of the skin to physically block out damaging UV rays.

sunlight protection

Chemical sunscreens often contain a long list of ingredients. Rather than sitting on top of the skin, chemical sunscreens absorb into the skin and allow the skin to transform UV rays into energy. This process occurs before the UV rays have a chance to damage the skin. [10]

Physical sunscreen ingredients tend to be less irritating than chemical sunscreens. Additionally, with physical sunscreen, you can avoid health and environmental concerns surrounding certain chemical sunscreen ingredients, such as avobenzone and octinoxate.

Along with the different types of sunscreen around today, there are various products that contain SPF. Mainly, SPF moisturizers are available to use in place of sunscreen. With an SPF moisturizer, you can combine moisturizer and sunscreen in a single step.

However, many experts have concerns surrounding SPF moisturizers. For one, moisturizers are designed to be absorbed into the skin, while sunscreen is often designed to sit on the surface of the skin, acting as a shield. Combining the two into a single product can, therefore, diminish the benefits of each.

Additionally, combining SPF with other ingredients can weaken it. As a result, you won’t get the full strength of the SPF rating. [10]


Which sunscreen is best for wrinkles?

The best sunscreen for wrinkles should offer broad-spectrum protection with an SPF of 30 or higher. Also, for sensitive skin types, mineral sunscreen is the best option.

Can sunscreen make you look younger?

Sunscreen can’t reverse skin aging. However, it can help you maintain a youthful appearance by preventing photoaging.

How much sunscreen should I use?

For complete sun protection, it’s important to be generous with your use of sunscreen. Experts generally recommend one ounce of sunscreen for your whole body.

What’s the deal with sunscreen?

Sunscreen is a crucial aspect of protecting your skin against sun damage, which can lead to signs of aging and skin cancer.

How exactly does sunscreen help slow down the aging clock?

Sunscreen helps slow down the aging clock by blocking out UV radiation that damages the collagen and elastin in the skin. As a result, your skin can remain smoother, more supple, and more hydrated as you age.

What’s the best sunscreen to protect your skin — and avoid aging?

A broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher is ideal to protect your skin and avoid aging.

What does SPF mean?

SPF stands for sun protection factor. It’s a measure of how long the sunscreen will protect your skin, based on how long it takes unprotected skin to burn. For example, if you typically burn after 10 minutes, SPF 30 will protect your skin for 300 minutes (10 x 30 = 300). [11]

What level of SPF do I need?

Experts recommend SPF 30 or higher for everyone, regardless of their age. [12]

What type of sunscreen should you use?

For protection during sun exposure, dermatologists recommend a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30. Additionally, sensitive skin types often benefit from mineral sunscreens which are less likely to cause irritation than chemical sunscreens. [13]

How does sunscreen work?

Sunscreen works by either converting UV radiation from the sun into heat or forming a physical barrier to block out UV rays. [14]

Attractive woman with healthy skin

What is the best way to prevent wrinkles on the face, neck, hands, and body?

Wearing protective clothing and applying sunscreen to any exposed skin are the best ways to prevent wrinkles on the face, neck, hands, and body.

Does sunburn cause wrinkles?

Yes, sunburn is a sign of UV damage from sun exposure. With time, this can cause the development of wrinkles, age spots, and other signs of skin aging. [15]

Does sunscreen prevent you from getting a tan?

Sunscreen prevents you from getting a tan, to an extent. However, sunscreen doesn’t offer 100% protection — SPF 30 blocks 97% of UV rays. So, you may be able to achieve a subtle sun-kissed look while shielding your skin from most of the sun’s damaging UV rays. [16]

Does SPF cause cancer?

A study from Valisure indicated that benzene, a chemical that can cause cancer, was found in multiple sunscreens. However, experts have questioned whether the study’s testing methods were responsible for the detected benzene levels. Toxicologists also added that even those who apply sunscreen with the highest benzene levels to their whole body, you’d be exposed to just half of the amount of benzene that you breathe in a day in the normal city air.
With this in mind, the risk of benzene is a fraction of the risk of not wearing sunscreen. You can also check Valisure’s list to make sure that your sunscreen is benzene-free. [17]

What does sunscreen do for your skin?

Sunscreen shields your skin from the sun’s damaging rays to prevent wrinkles, premature aging, and skin cancer.

Is zinc oxide in my makeup enough protection against the effects of sun exposure?

Zinc oxide protects against both UVB and UVA rays, so it can be used on its own for adequate sun protection. [18] However, it’s best to apply a separate sunscreen with at least SPF 30 before applying your makeup. To get the full SPF on the label, you’d need to apply seven times the usual amount of foundation and 14 times the normal amount of powder. [19]

Does the sun cause wrinkles?

Yes, sun exposure is the most prevalent cause of wrinkles and skin damage. [20]

Is sunscreen good for your skin and collagen?

UV ray exposure increases collagen damage and alters collagen synthesis. So, given that collagen helps your skin retain its strength and structure, sunscreen is good for your skin! [21]

Does sunscreen prevent wrinkles and fine lines from UV rays?

Yes, sunscreen has been found to prevent fine lines and wrinkles from UV radiation. [22]

Can I learn how to reduce chest wrinkles naturally?

To naturally reduce chest wrinkles, apply sunscreen to the area whenever you’re not wearing protective clothing. Skincare products containing hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, or retinol can also help you avoid pesky chest wrinkles. [23]

Conclusion: Does SPF Prevent Wrinkles?

With a distinct anti-aging effect, SPF is an essential part of any rejuvenating skincare routine. Sunscreen prevents damage from the sun’s damaging UV rays that can lead to wrinkles, fine lines, age spots, and discoloration.

After reading this article, you have the information that you need to find the best sunscreen to fight wrinkles. Over time, you’ll notice the difference that sunscreen makes for the health of your skin.


Avatar for Megan Foley

Megan has been a freelance writer and editor since 2016. In that time, she’s penned a diverse collection of articles for online publication, with a focus on skincare and beauty. From in-depth product reviews to concise marketing content, Megan is passionate about developing content that informs, entertains, and inspires.