Don’t Skip It: Sunscreen Prevents Skin Aging
Experts have warned for years that we should slather on sunscreen, primarily to prevent skin cancer. Now, for the first time, scientists have proven that regular sunscreen use significantly prevents premature wrinkles, sagging skin, and other signs of aging, at least among fair-skinned, middle-aged people.
Of course, dermatologists and cosmetologists have long insisted that regular sunscreen use helps prevent photoaging, the type of deep-beneath-the-skin damage caused by exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. They’ve also noted that UV exposure—and damage—accumulates over a lifetime. But until now, no large, controlled study had ever been conducted to prove that regular sunscreen use can really forestall the visible signs of skin aging.
The study enrolled nearly 1,000 Australian men and women under the age of 55. Subjects were followed for nearly five years, and their skin was carefully examined before and after the study for the appearance of fine wrinkles and other signs of aging. People who used factor 15 sunscreen daily experienced virtually no change in the appearance of the skin in that time, while people who did not regularly use sunscreen experienced noticeable changes in the texture and appearance of the skin. The study also looked at the use of oral beta-carotene supplements to prevent photoaging of skin. They had no apparent effect.
M.C.B. Hughes, G.M. Williams, P. Baker, and A.C. Green. 2013. Sunscreen and Prevention of Skin Aging. A Randomized Trial. Annals of Internal Medicine (volume 158, pages 781-790).