If you frequently spend time in the sun without sunscreen, your skin will start to reflect that; it's a simple truth. Signs of aging are natural, but thanks to harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays, you may experience sunspots, dull complexion, fine lines, and wrinkles prematurely. So, does sunscreen prevent wrinkles? Sun damage and wrinkles often go hand-in-hand, and sunscreen may be more important than you even realize.

Read on to learn about sunscreen's important role in keeping you looking good and feeling good, too.

How UV Rays Affect Your Skin

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, the cumulative sun damage you've been exposed to throughout your life is responsible for the majority of signs of skin aging. UV rays penetrate your skin to break down collagen and elastin production—proteins that give your complexion that plumped-up, youthful look. But there are two types of UV rays to watch out for: UVA and UVB. UVA rays have a longer wavelength and lead to the tell-tale signs of aging, while UVB rays are what tans and burns your skin. Both types are harmful and increase your risk of skin cancer.

So, you have UVA rays to thank for wrinkles, which commonly appear around your eyes, mouth, neck, chest, and hands. These areas are often most affected because the skin is typically thinner and more fragile, and they're almost always exposed when outside.

Does Sunscreen Prevent Wrinkles?

You're not going to stop going outside to soak up some sun, so sunscreen is absolutely vital to prevent, slow down, and even reverse signs of aging. Keep in mind that UVA and UVB rays are present all year round, even on cloudy days when the sun is hidden, so you should wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen every day.

There are two main types of sunscreen: physical and chemical. Physical sunscreens—also referred to as mineral sunscreens—work by creating a physical barrier against UV radiation by reflecting them away with ingredients like zinc oxide. Chemical sunscreens don't actively sit on your skin—instead, they absorb UV radiation with active ingredients like oxybenzone and avobenzone.

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends a water-resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, like the EltaMD UV Sheer Broad-Spectrum SPF 50+. This sunscreen works for all skin types, and goes on lightweight, making it a perfect choice for daily protection. And if you already have wrinkles, the EltaMD UV Restore Broad-Spectrum SPF 40 is formulated to minimize their appearance and combat skin-aging free radicals.

Protect Yourself Everyday

Once you find the sunscreen that works for you and your skin type, implementing a daily sunscreen ritual should be easy. After all, you'll be wearing it every single day, so you should like the way it feels, looks, and protects your skin. If you need help finding the right fit, chat with EltaMD's Elysebot and take the quiz to match with your perfect sunscreen.

It's wise to make sure you're protecting yourself in other ways, too. By wearing sun-protective clothing, like hats and sunglasses, and seeking shade during the day, especially during peak times of UV exposure, you're taking the right steps to fight and prevent wrinkles.

At the end of the day, it's important to remember that wrinkles and fine lines are a normal part of living a long, healthy life. By protecting your skin now, you can simply help prevent signs of aging from occurring prematurely. So, slather on your sunscreen and head out into the sun feeling safe and secure—the world is waiting.

Author

  • Catherine Hufton is a UK-based freelance journalist and writer who has worked for some of fashion's most iconic companies and written for the world's best known magazines and newspapers. Beginning her career at Net-a-Porter and Matches Fashion over 12 years ago, she has created content for L'Oréal, Elle, Harper's Bazaar, The Telegraph and more.