Preventing Wrinkles With Sunscreen

The sun gives off ultraviolet light or ultraviolet radiation. Exposure to UV light (UVA or UVB) is the most known cause of premature skin aging and its subsequent by-products such as wrinkles. The solution is to put on sunscreen. However, there are other factors to consider other than just putting on this skin-care product. When using sunscreen, consider the spectrum of UV radiation absorbed, the amount you apply and how often do you put it on.

UV Radiation

UV radiation can be divided into categories based on the wavelength. UVC radiation is the one that is absorbed by the atmosphere, and thus, it does not harm the skin. UVB radiation affects the epidermis, the outermost layer for the skin. It is the primary factor that causes sunburn.

UVB cannot penetrate glass and its intensity depends on the season and the time of the day. UVA radiation is the one that penetrates deeper into the skin, and therefore works most efficiently. UVA’s intensity is more constant (than UVB’s) without the variations during the day and throughout the year. And, UVA can penetrate glass.

UV radiation and wrinkles

UVA and UVB radiation can both cause wrinkles. Both work by breaking down collagen and creating free radicals. Both also inhibit the natural repair function of the skin.


Sun-sensitivity can be classified based on skin phototype or SPT. There are 7 types of skin phototype:

SPT I – Always burns, never tans

SPT II – Burns easily, tans minim

SPT III – Burns moderately, tans gradually to light brown

SPT IV – Burns minimally, always tans well to moderately brown

SPT V – Rarely burns, tans profusely to dark

SPT VI – Never burns, deeply pigmented

People with skin types which fall under the type I and II are at the highest risk for the photoaging effects of UV rays which include wrinkles and skin cancer. To protect your skin from the harmful effects of UV rays, you should exercise proper use of sunscreen.

Sunscreen ingredients

Sunscreens ingredients are divided into compounds that absorb or physically absorb radiation. These radiation blockers are effective reducing the skin’s exposure to both UVA and UVB radiation. Older sunscreen ingredients like zinc oxide are opaque and thus may be cosmetically unacceptable.

Newer ingredients such as micronized titanium dioxide are not as opaque so they work better at protecting the skin. Radiation blockers or absorbers are differentiated by the type of radiation they absorb.

Choosing the Right Sunscreen

SPF or Sun Protection Factor measures the amount UVB absorption. For UVA radiation however, there is no way of measuring the amount absorbed. To know if your sunscreen provides protection against both UVA and UVB radiation is to check the ingredients.

A good (broad-spectrum) sunscreen should have the following ingredients: an SPF of at least 15 and contain avobenzone, titanium dioxide, or zinc oxide.

Proper sunscreen application

Most people use sunscreens incorrectly, usually by not applying enough. People apply only about 25-50% of the recommended amount. Sunscreen should be applied generously to all sun-exposed areas. A film should form when initially applied.

The skin takes about 20-30 minutes to absorb the sunscreen so apply it about a half hour before your go out. Lastly, sunscreen should be the last skin-care product you apply. Some sunscreens break down in the presence of water contained in water-based products such as moisturizers.

Reapplying sunscreens

Sunscreens usually have general instructions like reapply "frequently". Another common instruction is to reapply after 2-4 hours in the sun. However, a study showed that reapplying sunscreens after being in the sun for 20-30 minutes is more effective than waiting for a couple of hours.

Reapplying after 20-30 minutes may be more effective because most people do not apply enough sunscreens the first time, and this second application approximates the needed amount. Sunscreen should also be reapplied after activities such as swimming or excessive sweating, and even after toweling.

Sunscreen Daily

To prevent skin damage and premature aging, apply sunscreen daily. Using a low-SPF sunscreen (15) has been shown to be more effective than applying higher SPF sunscreens every now and then.

Sunscreens and Insect Repellents

When using sunscreen and insect repellents together, it is advisable to use a sunscreen that has higher SPF. This is because insect repellents reduce the sunscreen’s SPF by one-third.