Let’s face it, a lot of people are very negligent when it comes to sunscreen use. Maybe you’ll glob some on if you’re heading to the beach or a pool. Maybe your skin will be lucky enough if you put on an SPF moisturizer once in the morning.
Between never putting on sunscreen, never re-applying, getting shit sleep, tanning, or whatever other abrasive skincare routines you have going, it’s no wonder some of you might end up looking like a crypt keeper by the time you’re 30. And yes, this includes everyone of every skin color under the sun (haha, see what I did there?).
Before you try to argue that sunscreen is only for pale people or that it doesn’t make that big of a difference, let’s go over some compelling reasons you might actually want to put it on.
- helps mitigate skin cancer (duh)
Idk about you, but skin cancer doesn’t sound fun or sexy. You want to put yourself at risk or play with your life like that? It’s all fun and games till you get carcinomas/melanomas and end up having to go to a dermatologist to get them cut out. Now not only do you have to deal with potentially scarring your skin for life, but you could also, like, you know, DIE FROM CANCER. And all for what?
And here’s the insidious part, skin cancer is much less likely to be detected in people of color on time. Research for sun damage on more melanated skin is limited bc of structural racism, so it’s no wonder. But we know enough to understand that skin cancer risk, especially when not reduced by taking consistent protective measures against harmful UV rays, increases as we get older. By the time some doctor even realizes you have cancer, it may already be too late, and not everyone even has access to a dermatologist. Trust me. Prevention is key and self-love.
- improves hyperpigmentation & evens skin tone
Do you have post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation from acne? Melasma? Sunspots? Lentigines? Moles? Freckles? Do you know what keeps it under control? SUNSCREEN. Every time you’re exposed to sunlight, even if it’s just inside your house through your windows, you’re activating your melanocytes, and with it comes uneven discoloration/ melanin deposits. UV rays will cause all your dark spots to get even darker and larger by activating your melanocytes.
- anti-aging benefits
If hyperpigmentation and cancer aren’t enough of a concern for you, then maybe premature aging is. Spider veins, liver spots, and wrinkles are a trip. Don’t believe me? Look at this dude. He’s been a truck driver for over 28 years. Guess what? He never wore sunscreen. As you can see, the left side of his face (which was receiving more direct sunlight while he was driving) is significantly wrinklier. Why? Because UV rays decrease the elasticity of your skin.
Photoaging isn’t like normal aging that happens over time. It literally damages your DNA and changes the structure of your skin. Sun damage may not be immediately visible, and you might not even burn in the sun, but eventually, it creeps up on you. It’s better to prevent it and not have regrets later on. Just look at the difference between these two twins (I think you know which one was using sunscreen).
- Improves Texture and helps manage acne
As long as you’re using a decent sunscreen that doesn’t irritate your skin or isn’t comedogenic, sunscreen is actually important if you’re trying to manage acne and breakouts. Here’s the thing, UV radiation suppresses the immune system. It’s one way it can increase your risk of developing skin cancer; by getting rid of your body’s ability to kill off cancer cells and suppress tumors. However, in addition to that, you’re more vulnerable to pathogens on your skin’s surface. Specifically, different strains of bacteria reside in your pores and are responsible for causing acne. Left unchecked by your body’s immune system, these bacteria can easily wreak havoc. If you’re acne-prone, you’re only jeopardizing yourself by not using consistent sun protection.
- Prevent sunburn
Not everyone burns in the sun, but when and if they do, it’s both painful and extremely harmful. This is when you cause the most damage to your skin, increasing your risk of later developing melanomas and lesions. In fact, that risk can be doubled with just 5 or more burns. But don’t get it twisted. Even if you tan instead of burn in the sun, both are responses to cellular damage from solar radiation.
The reason your skin tans in the first place is due to your body redistributing melanin to protect itself from further damage. Some people tan (increase melanin in the skin to protect the skin), and some burn (develop inflammation in the skin and peel). In other words, wherever you stand in the melanin spectrum, it’s better to play it safe and be extremely generous with your sunscreen application.
- Make your skincare routine effective
You’re telling me some of you are using retinoids, retinols, chemical peels, and fancy expensive serums to tackle acne or hyperpigmentation, but you’re not putting on sunscreen? :’)
Just throw your money in the garbage right now. Paula basura. You’ve been wasting your time, hun, and maybe even making the problem worse. First of all, using actives on your skin like chemical peels, retinoids, or tyrosinase inhibitors makes you more photosensitive (AKA more sensitive to the sun). Not only can you burn or damage your skin more easily, but you’re also undoing the benefits of your skincare products by introducing more UV damage daily. Sunscreen actually makes all that effort you’re putting into your beauty routines worth it.
- UV radiation exposure is worse than it ever has been
Idk if you know this but capitalism and white supremacy have been destroying the planet for a while. One of those unfortunate side effects is that we have a depleted ozone layer, which serves as natural protection in the earth’s atmosphere from the sun’s UV rays. That means these UV rays are hitting you harder than they were ever hitting your predecessors. Combine that with all the forests that used to provide shade being cut down, all the pollution, etc., and you may as well be deep frying your skin. My point is that this shit will destroy your skin even more than if you were alive half a century ago. Even people living before the creation of sunscreen as we know it would use shade, mud, hats, clothing, and different herbs to protect themselves from the sun. Just imagine the shit you’re putting your body through daily by using zero protection.
Some of you might be reluctant to use sunscreen because you’re picturing those dreaded white casts and strong-smelling creams. Lucky for you, there are some helpful lists and guidelines created by estheticians like Tiara Willis, also known as @makeupforwoc for sunscreen recs that don’t make you look like Casper the ghost (note: this is not exhaustive).
There are so many options ranging from price and formulation, a bajillion to pick from – not putting on sunscreen is inexcusable and not worth the risk. Getting rid of sun damage is MUCH MORE EXPENSIVE and TIME-CONSUMING. Save your time, money, and tears down the line. Trust me, put on some sunscreen (and re-apply every 2 hours while exposed to the sun). Plz just do it. I say this with love.