Sunscreen Is the Not-So-Secret Anti-Aging Step in Your Skin Care Routine


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We’re all about a beauty product that does the most. A face serum that hydrates, softens, and brightens? Yes, please. A moisturizing lip balm that’s also plumping? We’ll take two. But the best multitasking skin-care product may be hiding in plain sight: sunscreen.

Yes, SPF provides protection against UV radiation and sun damage, but did you also know that it can help keep skin looking even, firm, and youthful? “Sunscreen is the ultimate workhorse in dermatology and skin care,” says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Katharine Saussy, MD.

On top of the inherent benefits, there are so many innovative formulas available these days that are packed with ingredients like antioxidants (e.g., vitamins C and E) for added skin-boosting oomph. “Antioxidants help neutralize free radicals generated by UV radiation and reduce the oxidative stress and damage to the skin,” says Dr. Connie Yang, MD, a board-certified dermatologist. You’ll find them and more extras in what we like to call the “super sunscreens” from EltaMD, a derm-favorite brand.

So—in case you needed any more reasons to make sunscreen the daily habit it should be—keep reading below for all the complexion rewards ready to be reaped.

It Helps Delay Signs of Aging

UVA rays penetrate deep into skin, causing photodamage and premature skin aging, and can pass through clouds,” says Dr. Yang. This is why wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen every day—even when it’s not sunny outside—can prevent fine lines and wrinkles and help maintain your skin’s tone and texture. Dr. Saussy recommends EltaMD UV AOX Elements Broad-Spectrum SPF 50, a tinted mineral formula that contains vitamins C and E for that extra power against photoaging.

EltaMD UV AOX Elements Broad-Spectrum SPF 50

 UV AOX Elements Broad-Spectrum SPF 50

It Prevents the Breakdown of Collagen

Collagen, the protein that keeps our skin looking firm and plump, can be affected by UVA rays. “UV radiation and sun damage cause thinning of the skin by breaking down collagen,” says Dr. Saussy. And that deterioration can lead to fine lines and a loss of elasticity.

The skin around the eyes is at particular risk, as it’s ultrathin to begin with. Use a special formula tailored for this area, such as EltaMD UV AOX Eye Broad Spectrum SPF 30, which contains wrinkle-fighting peptides and Persian silk-tree extract to help reduce the look of dark circles and puffiness.

EltaMD UV AOX Eye Broad Spectrum SPF 30

UV AOX Eye Broad Spectrum SPF 30

It Wards Off Hyperpigmentation

The sun’s rays stimulate melanin production, which can “cause pigmentary changes in the skin such as hyperpigmentation and sun spots,” says Dr. Saussy. In fact, the sun is one of the three main causes of skin pigmentation, along with genetics and certain medications.

If you’re concerned about hyperpigmentation, she recommends EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46, “because it is oil-free, works on all skin tones, is compatible with most skin types, and is specifically formulated for those with acne, rosacea, and hyperpigmentation.”

EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46

UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46

It Helps Even Out Skin Tone

The sun can also be to blame for uneven skin tone and worsening conditions like melasma, says Dr. Yang. A tinted sunscreen can help in the long run (the SPF) and right away (by blurring imperfections). Yang likes EltaMD UV Daily Tinted Broad-Spectrum SPF 40 “for those who want a little coverage on no-makeup days.”

EltaMD UV Daily Tinted Broad-Spectrum SPF 40

UV Daily Tinted Broad-Spectrum SPF 40

It Can Help With Rosacea

UV rays are responsible for more types of redness than just sunburns. Sun exposure “can lead to enlarged and chronically dilated blood vessels and trigger rosacea flare-ups,” says Dr. Saussy.

If you experience rosacea, the additional ingredients to look for in your sunscreen formula are, again, antioxidants. “They provide further protection against UV damage, free radicals, and environmental factors, and can also be calming and soothing to the skin, as well as help fight pigmentary changes such as redness,” she says. EltaMD UV AOX Mist Broad-Spectrum SPF 40, a sheer-finish mineral sunscreen spray, contains vitamins C and E.

EltaMD UV AOX Mist Broad-Spectrum SPF 40

UV AOX Mist Broad-Spectrum SPF 40

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