Our daily routines are full of practices that keep us healthy, happy, and fit. What many people don't realize is that applying sunscreen—just like brushing your teeth and exercising—is an important everyday habit, too.

Sun care products have long been considered essential for beach getaways or outdoor summer fun, but dermatologists everywhere will tell you that they are, in fact, necessary for a proper skin care regimen 365 days of the year.

If you're wondering why it's so important to wear sunscreen daily and how to add it to your routine, read on to learn more.

The Invisible Risk of UV Rays

Put simply, ultraviolet (UV) light is a type of radiation that comes from the sun. As you might expect, it is strongest in warm, bright climates, but many may not know that if there is daylight, there is enough UV light to damage your skin. This makes sunscreen application essential for everyone and every kind of weather, even through clouds, rain, or snow. Believe it or not, a broad-spectrum sunscreen is a must even if you don't plan on being outdoors. The windows in your car, home, and office may not offer substantial defense against UV rays, nor will most lightweight white cotton T-shirts. Sunscreen on exposed areas is necessary even if you are just commuting to and from work or sitting in a room with windows enjoying a book.

We know that in the short term, inadequate protection against intense bursts of UV light causes damage to our skin in the form of sunburns and tans—and, yes, a tan is damage. Over the long term, however, scientists have attributed 90 percent of skin cancers and 90 percent of the visible signs of aging (e.g., wrinkles, sunspots, discoloration, and saggy skin) to cumulative unprotected exposure to UV light. These statistics explain why the American Academy of Dermatology recommends that everyone apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher at the start of each morning. This applies to men and women of all ages and skin tones. Once you learn what works for you, it's an easy habit to keep.

Working Sun Care Into Your Routine

Luckily, there are many different formulations of products available, so you can easily fit a broad-spectrum sunscreen into your morning routine. There are creams, powders, lotions, sticks, and sprays in tinted and sheer varieties, to name a few options. Take the time to find which product works best for you and your habits to ensure you'll be inclined to use it daily. If you choose one that makes your skin feel and look good, using sunscreen won't feel like a burden.

To simplify things, a busy user might like to combine their products where possible. For example, after washing and using any daily serums, they could apply a product that doubles as a sunscreen and a facial moisturizer before finishing their makeup.

If you only have time for one thing, make it your SPF product. This means that whichever brand you choose, you need to make certain that the sunscreen is listed as a primary active ingredient. As a final caveat, be conscious of product labeling. Look specifically for the words "broad spectrum" and ensure that the SPF is 30 or higher. You might be surprised to find that many lotions and tanning oils marketed for sun care do not actually meet this standard of protection.

Enjoying Life With a Total Sun Protection Mindset

Life should be enjoyed to its fullest, and exposure to nature in all of her forms—the sun included—is good for the mind, body, and soul. The key is to take steps to support and protect your skin as you begin your morning and throughout each day.

If you've made the decision to start taking better care of your skin, there are many protective measures you can take that go beyond your sunscreen routine. If you're looking to hit the beach, enjoy the view and sound of the crashing waves from under an umbrella. Or, if you're hiking up mountains to picnic with friends, wear a broad-brimmed hat and sunglasses. You could also consider some new window treatments to cut down UV exposure while still filling your living space with natural light.

Lastly, make sure to visit a board-certified dermatologist at least once a year for a skin cancer screening and up-to-date guidance on general skin health. Our skin is tasked with the important and constant job of protecting us. Protect it back and wear sunscreen daily.


  • Mona Gohara, MD

    Dr. Mona Gohara is a Connecticut-based Dermatologist and associate professor of Dermatology at Yale School of Medicine. She has a particular interest in skin cancer prevention and treatment for skin of color. Dr. Gohara spends a lot of time outdoors with her husband, son, and two dogs, Coco and Cleo. They all wear sunscreen.

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