6 Things That Happen To Your Body When You Skip Sunscreen

Life as we know it depends on the sun. But there’s a major downside to enjoying a warm day outside, and that’s the ultraviolet (UV) rays that come from the sun. You can’t see them, but you can feel them. And the longer you stay out, the more they damage your skin.

Luckily, wearing sunscreen can help protect your skin against harmful UV rays. But if you think “What’s a little sunburn gonna do to me?” — think again. UV rays can cause much more serious problems. Here are six things that happen to your body when you skip sunscreen and how to choose the best sunscreen.

Without sunscreen, your skin starts to tan

The fairer your skin, it seems, the more you desire a tan. We’re told that tans look healthy, and they may look that way, but there’s a catch. Your body is actually reacting to damaging rays the entire time it tans. Using sunscreen helps block out the harsh rays. If you find yourself spending more time outdoors on sunny days, you definitely need extra protection. But you also need it even if you’re just out a few minutes per day, because the effect is cumulative. 

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Without sunscreen, you can get a sunburn

Some people burn faster than others, depending on how much sun they’re getting, but even a little bit can be the start of something bad. Spending too much time in the sun first causes redness, then searing and bubbling. It’s quite possible to get a third-degree sunburn if you’re not careful. And even though the burns eventually fade, you’ve still done massive damage to your skin. 

Without sunscreen, your skin can turn leathery over time

Some people who spend a lot of time outdoors without sunscreen have a weathered, leathery look to their skin. This is caused by the layers of epidermis, the topmost layer of skin, reacting to the sun and trying to protect the skin. There are three layers to skin, but it’s the epidermis that’s most damaged by the sun’s rays. So, if you’re not using sunscreen, you’re literally baking yourself. It doesn’t matter if it’s the sun or a tanning booth, the damage is the same.

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Without sunscreen, your skin gets more moles and freckles

Moles and freckles are part of the same system. When you’re exposed to the sun, some cells will darken faster than others. Freckles are not bad, but moles can be. Moles are made up of clumps of dark cells, and they may form a bump. Growing, misshapen bumps can be a sign of skin cancer. This is why you should always get a checkup if a new mole appears after prolonged exposure to the sun. You can never be too careful when it comes to moles.

Without sunscreen, you’ll age faster

Premature aging is another thing that sunscreen can help fight. Studies have shown that people who wear sunscreen every day have skin that is smoother and less wrinkled than those who did not wear it every day. You may think that tanning makes you look young and healthy, but that’s not really the case.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re using a brand name sunscreen like Cerave or Neutrogina, as long as its SPF rating is 30 or higher. Shea butter is hyped as a natural sunscreen but it’s only got a 6-10 SPF rating, so it’s not suitable for long term exposure.

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Without sunscreen, your risk for skin cancer increases

We already talked about moles and how they can become cancerous. The problem is that skin cancer is the most common type of cancer there is. If caught early enough, most skin cancer can be excised or treated, but it’s never a good idea not to keep an eye on new or growing moles. Another way of increasing your risk of skin cancer is repeatedly burning. So, you want to avoid sunburns altogether. Even if it’s over the course of years, the more times you burn, the worse your odds get. 

Chemical sunscreen vs. mineral sunscreen

So, what’s the best sunscreen to use? There are generally two types of sunscreen: chemical sunscreen and mineral sunscreen.

Chemical sunscreen is made of chemicals like avobenzone, octinoxate and oxybenzone. It absorbs into your skin where it then absorbs UV rays. It converts UV rays into heat and releases them from your body. It’s a less noticeable and more waterproof option.

Meanwhile, mineral sunscreen is made of zinc or titanium oxide, and sits atop your skin rather than being absorbed into it. It works by deflecting UV rays from your body. The downside is that it can feel sticky, leave a white cast to your skin, and can wash off more easily with water.

Whichever sunscreen you choose, you want to find one labeled for “broad spectrum” protection. This means it blocks UVB rays (that cause surface damage like sunburns) as well as UVA rays (that penetrate deep into the skin and cause wrinkles). Both type of rays cause skin cancer, so no matter what your skin concerns are, you should be protecting yourself against both.

So, it’s important to do your research and choose your sunscreen wisely. And remember to read the directions on each bottle and reapply as often as directed (every two hours in some cases). With a little forethought and effort, you can help protect yourself from the harmful effects of UV rays!

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