Does Sunscreen Prevent Aging and Wrinkles?
Yes, but follow these tip for best results.

by Linda Robison

We know that sunscreen can prevent skin aging. But for the ultimate anti-aging protection, it's important to know:

  • which type offers best protection against sun-induced wrinkles
  • what type is best if you wear makeup
  • how much to apply
  • when to apply
suncreen prevent aging

We know how important sunscreen is to prevent sunburn and, even worse, skin cancer.

But, it can also prevent, slow down and in some cases, reverse the signs of facial aging, like wrinkles, age spots, and sagging skin.

Important Fact: Sunscreen is the most important anti-aging skincare product you can use! Even more essential than anti-aging serums, creams, and in-office procedures!

What type offers better protection against sun-induced wrinkles

suncreen protects against sun induced wrinkles

Both UVA and UVB rays can damage the skin and cause cancer. And most broad spectrum sunscreens help protect against both.

But UVA rays (also called "aging rays") are mostly responsible for long-term damage like age spots, loss of collagen and elastin, and wrinkles.

UVA rays are present throughout the year (even on cloudy days) and can penetrate glass. This means they can reach the skin even when you're indoors.

So, the question is which one blocks the UVA rays better?

The consensus is that mineral sunscreen, with its high zinc oxide concentration, is generally more reliable and consistent in it's UVA-blocking abilities. 1

It has been suggested that the ingredients in chemical sunblocks, like avobenzone, offer UVA protection, but may degrade more quickly when exposed to sunlight.

To find ones that offer the best UVA protection, look for the PA rating.

What is a PA rating?

When selecting sun protection that help protect against skin aging and wrinkles, look for products that offer a PA rating. The PA rating system has been widely used in regions like East Asia.

Not all products have this rating yet, but it is an important factor to consider.

What is a PA rating:

The term "PA" indicates the level of protection against UVA rays provided by a product. 

PA stands for "Protection Grade of UVA." The higher the PA rating, the greater the protection against UVA rays.

Here is a breakdown of the PA rating system:

  • PA+ some UVA protection, ranging from 2 to 4
  • PA++ moderate UVA protection, ranging from 4 to 8
  • PA+++ high UVA protection, ranging from 8 to 16
  • PA++++ extremely high UVA protection, ranging 16 or higher*

Note: The PA rating system focuses solely on UVA protection and does not provide information about the sunscreen's SPF protection.

* PA++++ is the highest rating, indicating excellent protection against UVA radiation. Products with this rating are hard to find. Consult with a dermatologist to find sunscreens that offer this high level of UVA protection.

*See a list of products that offer the PA rating at the bottom of this page.

What type of sunscreen do I need?

woman wearing sunscreen on her face.

The two main types of skin protecting creams. Mineral (also called physical) and chemical. 

Here's how they differ:

Mineral Sunscreens

These work by creating a physical barrier on the skin that reflects and scatters UV rays. They contain mineral ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.

I know, many people dislike this type due to a white residue!😒 Although, many newer sunscreen products are lighter and feel invisible. Like ColoreScience.

These ingredients sit on top of the skin and provide immediate protection, effectively blocking both UVA and UVB rays. 

They're well-tolerated and less likely to cause irritation or allergies. And it can be applied on top of your other skin care products and makeup.

Chemical Sunscreens

These work by absorbing ultraviolet rays and converting them into heat, which is then released from the skin.

They usually contain chemicals like: avobenzone, octinoxate, or oxybenzone.

The safety of these ingredients have been questioned by regulatory agencies and scientific studies.

This type should be applied for approximately 20 minutes to be absorbed before becoming effective.

Pros and Cons of Mineral Based Creams:

Pros:

  • provides broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays
  • work immediately upon application
  • less likely to cause skin irritation
  • suitable for sensitive skin types
  • provide a physical barrier against the sun

Cons:

  • some may leave a white cast on the skin
  • can feel thicker or heavier on the skin

Pros and Cons of Chemical Based Creams:

Pros:

  • has a lightweight, smooth texture
  • is easier to apply and blend 
  • does not leave a white cast

Cons:

  • some may cause skin irritation or allergies
  • does not provide as immediate protection upon application
  • chemicals, like oxybenzone, have raised safety and environmental concerns

Which should you use?

Of course, the choice depends on your personal preference and skin type.

But, if you're especially concerned about sun-induced wrinkles, or you have a multi-layered skincare routine, a mineral based product might be a better choice.

Ingredients like such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide act as physical blockers and help shield against UVA rays.

What if you hate mineral based sunscreens?

Chemical based sun protecting products are improving and many are starting to carry the PA rating.

But, if you can't find one with a PA rating, try to choose a product with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or higher.

While SPF primarily measures protection against UVB rays, a higher SPF often indicates better UVA protection as well.

What sunscreen to wear with makeup

If you wear makeup, moisturizers, serums – should they go before or after sunblock?

That depends on whether you're using, a chemical or mineral product.

If it's a chemical sunscreen, it's best to apply it on clean bare skin, before makeup and other products.

Why? 

Because the chemicals need to penetrate the skin in order to provide protection. And, you should wait a few minutes to let the sunscreen fully soak in before applying your makeup.

If you have a multi-layered skincare routine in the morning (i.e. serums and moisturizers), those products won't be able to penetrate as well once the sunscreen has been applied.

So, you might want to save these products for your nighttime routine.

Or switch to a mineral based sunscreen. Which can be applied as the last step on top of all your skincare products.

Your Best Bet To Prevent Skin Aging:

Use a mineral sunscreen because it plays well with other products. You can apply on top of your favorite skincare products and still get full protection.

Plus, it can easily be re-applied during the day as often as needed without any problems.

Also, for more ant-aging protection, look for products that offer a PA+++ rating of at least 3.

How much sunscreen to apply

two finger sunscreen rule

An easy way to make sure you're applying enough to protect your face is to follow the two finger-length method.

This means squeezing out two strips the length of your index and middle finger.

Here's how it works:

1. Squeeze enough sunscreen to cover the length of your index and middle fingers.

2. Apply the sunscreen to your face in dots, focusing on your cheeks, forehead, nose, and chin.

3. Using your fingers, blend into your skin, making sure to cover all exposed areas.

When to apply: Do you need sunscreen indoors

woman sitting by window should wear sunscreen

The Skin Cancer Society suggests wearing sunscreen every day, summer, or winter.

Even on cloudy days because up to 80% of the sun's harmful UV rays (UVA) can still penetrate your skin, so it's important to wear it daily. 

And of course, reapply if you're outside for a long period. Or if you're sweating a lot or after swimming.

Do you need sunscreen indoors?

If you spend a lot of time in a car, or indoors near a window, you can still get UV damage.

Glass windows can block UVB rays, but they not so much UVA rays.

Fact: Studies show people who spend a lot of time sitting in front of windows, may be at an increased risk of developing skin cancer on the side of their face and hands that is exposed to the sun through the window.

If you're sitting near a window for an extended period of time, it's a good idea to wear broad-spectrum protection and an SPF of 30 or higher.

You can also protect your skin by wearing protective clothing, such as long sleeves and a hat, or by sitting behind a window that is coated with a special UV-blocking film.

Take Away: Sunscreen and skin aging

Regardless of which type of sunscreen you use, what's really important is that you use it!

And, if possible, wear UPF protective clothing like long sleeve shirts and hats.

Also, note that sunscreen products are constantly evolving and improving as scientific research and technological advancements continue to enhance our understanding of sun protection.

Here are a few ways in which sunscreen products are changing and improving:

1. Better UVA protection for chemical sunblocks – Understanding the importance of UVA rays' contributing to skin aging, manufacturers are developing chemical sunscreens with improved and more stabilized version of the ingredient avobenzone. And, they're starting to add a PA rating which indicates the level of UVA protection too.

2. Longer lasting water-resistant formulas – Water-resistant formula now offer extended protection during water activities or excessive sweating. They adhere better to the skin, maintaining their efficacy even when exposed to water or moisture.

3. Combination sunblock – Some companies offer a combination of physical (mineral) and chemical sunscreen in a silky, easy to apply serum.

The takeaway here is to make sure you apply the sunscreen correctly for the best protection. Using incorrectly can render you vulnerable to the sun's damaging UV rays.

Also, follow the manufacture's instructions for best results.

Sunscreens with PA Ratings

Colorescience - Mineral block has a 4-star PA rating: Brush on mineral powder or Face Shield Glow Cream

Supergoop - Chemical block has a 4-star PA rating: Everyday Play SPF 50 Lotion 

Derma B - Mineral block has a 4-star PA rating: Derma B Everyday Sunblock Lightweight Moisturizer




1The Sunscreen You Use Matters More Than You Think - Natures Helper Medical Clinic




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