Are you someone who skips applying sunscreen everyday? You might be thinking it’s not a big deal, but it can have some not-so-good impact on your skin. Wondering why?
Not applying sunscreen can result in major skin concerns in the long run. In this article we tell you why it is important to apply sunscreen and what happens if you don’t. Read on.
Our Ayurvedic Doctor Speaks
“More SPF does not imply that the sunscreen lasts longer. Rather, it means that the sunscreen contains more added chemicals which may pose potential health risks.’’
Dr. Zeel Gandhi (Bachelor of Ayurveda, Medicine & Surgery), Chief Ayurvedic Doctor, Vedix
Why Should You Wear Sunscreen?
The sun rays can do more harm to your skin than you would imagine. Even a limited exposure of your skin to the sun's radiation can cause irreversible damage in the long run if you do not protect it with sunscreen .
There are two major ways that sun exposure can damage your skin health: ultraviolet A (UVA) radiation which speeds up the aging process in your skin and ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation which burns your skin cells. The UV rays from the sun can reach your skin not just when you are outside but even when you are inside your home or car through the windows.
“Your skin has its natural defense mechanism to protect your skin from UV radiation at a certain level. But, it's insufficient to shield your skin cells from excessive sun exposure, which can result in long-term skin concerns such as age spots, wrinkles, pigmentation, sagging skin, roughness, darkening, and others,” says Dr. Zeel Gandhi, Chief Ayurvedic Doctor at Vedix.
Hence, it is essential to use sunscreen daily, which acts as a barrier on your skin against sunlight.
There are two categories of sunscreens that you can apply to your skin: physical and chemical. While the physical sunscreen contains active minerals that reflect and scatter the radiation from the sunlight, chemical sunscreens absorb the radiation before it reaches the inner layers of your skin.
However, researchers from Johnson & Johnson claim that physical sunscreens that contain metal oxides protect the skin actually by absorbing the UV radiation and not by reflecting and scattering.
Elephants coat their bodies with mud to protect their skin against the sun’s radiation.
10 Things That Happen When You Don't Wear Sunscreen
1. Sun Spots
Sunspots or age spots  occur when your skin is exposed to sunlight for a long time. These sunspots are usually associated with itching, burning sensation, and tenderness.
2. Premature Aging
If you don't apply sunscreen, the UV radiation can damage the collagen and connective tissue in your skin. This, in turn, leads to loss of elasticity in your skin, causing wrinkles, saggy and aged skin to appear in younger people.
A study conducted by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia revealed that regular usage of sunscreen controls skin ageing in healthy, middle-aged men and women.
3. Darkening Of Skin
Your skin produces melanin in excessive amounts as a part of its natural defense against sun radiation. This leaves your skin with dark patches and an uneven tone.
Studies conducted by the Department of Dermatology and Venereology, Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi, show that regular usage of sunscreen is quite effective in preventing photoaging and pigmentation abnormalities in the skin.
4. Sun Burns
The burns on the skin resulting from too much exposure to UV radiation from the sun are called sunburns. Your skin may develop mild to severe sunburns which appear as red, hot, painful patches on skin with blisters. The burnt skin peels off after a few days.
In a prospective study of sunburns during adolescence, scientists concluded that using sunscreen regularly for at least 6 hours in the summer resulted in the proportionate drop of sunburn cases.
5. Skin Cancer
UV radiation can cause irreparable DNA damage that can generate a gene mutation, which can eventually trigger cancer in your skin. In skin cancer, the skin cells multiply rapidly to form a malignant tumor.
The Norwegian women and cancer study concluded that using sunscreens with SPF>=15 reduces the risk of melanoma significantly when compared to sunscreens with SPF<15.
“People who have lighter skin tone are at higher risk of developing skin cancer  and using sunscreen daily can help to lower the risk,” says Dr. Zeel.
Watch closely if you notice any new mole, freckle, or brown spot on your skin. Seek medical help immediately if the spot does not heal and starts turning into an unusual lesion as it can be an early sign of melanoma.
Inflammation can occur in your skin tissue when it’s exposed to harmful UV radiation . Inflammation is a part of the natural healing process of UV-damaged skin. You can notice swelling, redness, and pain.
7. Dry Skin
Direct sun exposure on your skin causes loss of moisture and natural oils from your skin. It leads to dehydration and your skin eventually develops dry, rough patches in the affected areas.
In a study conducted on elderly Japanese people, it is revealed that after applying sunscreen regularly for 18 months, the water content of the stratum corneum in the skin increased significantly.
When the healing wounds or acne are exposed to the sunlight, it leads to scarring on your skin. When the UV radiation hits on the inflamed healing tissue of your skin, it results in post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), leaving your skin with dark brown scars.
Do not apply sunscreen on open wounds. You can apply sunscreen on healed wounds to fade away the scars faster.
9. Broken Blood Vessels
The UV rays from the sun can damage the ends of small blood vessels beneath your skin tissue. When there is a blood flush in your skin, fluids leak out from the damaged vessels, resulting in red bumps and blotches on your skin.
A study on Sunscreen Use Could Lead to Better Blood Vessel Health suggests that using sunscreen helps in preventing the dilation of the blood vessels by protecting them from harmful UV radiation.
10. Weaker Immune System
UV exposure can change the distribution and activity of some of the immune cells in your skin . UV radiation promotes the increase of cytokines along with the increasing T-cell activity. This, in turn, hampers your skin's immune responses.
How Often Should You Reapply Sunscreen?
“More SPF does not imply that the sunscreen lasts longer. Rather, it means that the sunscreen contains more added chemicals which may pose potential health risks,” says Dr. Zeel.
Hence, it is best to use a sunscreen with SPF ranging from 30-50 and reapply it every 2 hours throughout the day, especially when you are outside.
Also, people don't tend to reapply sunscreen because most of them come as thick creams and slathering turn out to be a hassle. It may feel heavy on the skin. However, there are sunscreens available in the form of sticks, powders, sprays, and lotions, which makes the reapplication convenient for you.
Vedix Tip: It takes a minimum of half an hour for your skin to absorb the sunscreen. So, it's better to plan ahead and apply the sunscreen at least 30 minutes before you step outside.
The Last Word
Most of us do not apply sunscreen unless we are planning to spend a day at a beach. But, though you may not notice any immediate impact, the UV radiation from the sun damages your skin in different ways. Hence, applying sunscreen every day is an extremely essential step in your skincare routine that you should not skip.
At Vedix, we formulate a customized Ayurvedic skincare regimen for your skin based on your unique skin needs.Know Your Dosha Now
1. UV Radiation and the Skin (June=2013), International Journal of Molecular Sciences
2. Molecular and histological characterization of age spots (Feb-2017), Experimental Dermatology
3. Key Statistics for Melanoma Skin Cancer, the American cancer society
4. Acute skin exposure to ultraviolet light triggers neutrophil-mediated kidney inflammation (Jan-2021), Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
5. Sun and the immune system (Sept-2012), Elsevier
6. Comprehensive Review of Ultraviolet Radiation and the Current Status on Sunscreens (Sept-2012), The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology
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