Why Every Guy Needs a Daily Sunscreen Routine (Plus, Tips for Getting Started)June 28, 2021 - Katie McCallum
Guys, it's time to talk about why you need to embrace a skin care routine. Particularly one that protects your skin from the sun.
If you're already "the one" of the 1 in 6 men who applies sunscreen regularly: Way to be, man. Keep reading, though, since you still may need to take your skin care habits up a notch.
If you're one of the 8 in 10 men who don't apply sunscreen often, if ever, please — for the sake of your health — keep reading.
Here are 3 reasons to wear sunscreen every day
Listen, we're not here to nag you about how you don't take good enough care of yourself. Chances are, someone in your life already does that.
We're just here to help you understand why it's time to take control of your skin health.
1. Anyone can get skin cancer
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, around 20% of Americans are likely to develop skin cancer over the course of their lifetime. Of this, about 1 in 27 men will be affected by melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer.
"One of the primary risk factors for developing skin cancer is sun exposure — especially if you're frequently exposed to it without protection," says Annie Christenson, medical aesthetician at Houston Methodist who practices with our ENT specialists.
The sun's rays are harsh, containing two types of UV light (UVA and UVB) proven to damage the DNA tucked away inside skin cells. Accumulating this type of damage can, ultimately, lead to skin cancer.
According to Christenson, the four most important things to understand about skin cancer are:
- It's common
- Anyone can get it
- It can be deadly
- It's one of the most preventable types of cancer
And speaking of skin cancer being preventable...
"One of the best ways to help reduce your skin cancer risk is to wear broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 35 or higher every single day, regardless of whether you plan to be out in the sun or not," says Christenson. "Seriously, every single day."
2. UVA rays are basically everywhere
"We tend to think that if we're in the shade or standing in direct sunlight that we're protected from the sun, but this isn't necessarily the case," warns Christenson.
While UVB rays are filtered by glass, UVA rays are not. Plus, UVA rays can penetrate through cloud cover.
This means that you can be exposed to UV rays even if it's a cloudy day or you're just sitting near a sunny window (aka, in your car).
"In fact, we actually see more skin cancers on the left side of the face and arm than the right, which is likely attributed to this side of the body being more exposed to UVA rays as we commute to and from work daily," adds Christenson.
And while shade is a great way to stay out of direct sunlight, just know that UV rays can reflect off of many surfaces, including:
"What all of this means for you is that wearing sunscreen is important — even when you don't plan to be outside much or even if it's not a particularly sunny day," explains Christenson. "It's yet another reason we recommend wearing sunscreen every single day."
3. Your skin may thank you later
UV rays don't just have the power to cause skin cancer, they contribute to skin aging, too.
We know, we know — your complexion probably isn't your top priority. (It's why we saved this for reason #3.)
Still, if you're the future-planning type, you may be further inclined to put sunscreen on every day after knowing that it can help slow how quickly your skin wrinkles or becomes leathery.
"Your skin ages along with you, but regular, unprotected exposure to the sun just further contributes to the loss of elasticity you'll naturally develop over time. Wearing sunscreen every day, especially on your face, may help postpone damage that quickens skin aging," adds Christenson.
How to start a daily sunscreen routine
Bonus reason #4 to wear sunscreen every day: It's way less complicated and time consuming than you might be making it out to be.
Here are Christenson's tips if you're ready to get started with a sunscreen routine:
Go broad spectrum, use an SPF of at least 35 and consider a sweat-resistant option
The term "broad spectrum" means it'll protect you from both UVA and UVB rays — which is what you need. Remember: UVA rays are basically everywhere. And UVB rays are bad, too.
Sunscreen SPFs can really range, but keep things simple by just being sure to choose one that's at least SPF 35.
"A sunscreen with an SPF of 35 provides near total blockage. Anything above that doesn't necessarily block significantly better, it primarily just extends the amount of time the sunscreen protects your skin. An SPF of 35 is sufficient for daily use," recommends Christenson.
Additionally, if you're a sweater or are planning to exercise, Christenson recommends opting for a 'Sport' sunscreen.
"Sport sunscreens are water-resistant, which means you don't need to reapply after sweating — but you do need to reapply according to the timeframe on the bottle and if you towel off after sweating," adds Christenson.
Apply sunscreen to any skin that's exposed
"The most important place to apply sunscreen every day is to your face and neck, and don't forget this includes your ears and back of neck," says Christenson. "This is the part of your body that's always exposed to the sun."
If you're wearing a t-shirt and shorts, you'll also want to be sure to slather or spray sunscreen on your arms and legs, too.
For added protection from the sun, there are many types of clothing, including shirts, hats and gloves, that have SPF as part of the fabric.
Invest in a face-specific sunscreen
Your run-of-the-mill sunscreen is similar to a 2-in-1 shampoo/conditioner: Convenient in theory, impractical for everyday use.
"Your typical sunscreen can be applied anywhere on your body and is totally effective, but it can be uncomfortable to wear regularly on your face. Plus, sunscreen can contribute to clogged pores and acne," says Christenson.
Ideally, your daily routine includes a sunscreen designed specifically for your face.
"Face-specific sunscreens contain moisturizers and other ingredients that help them feel more comfortable to wear and cut down on the chance of causing acne," adds Christenson.
If you're acne-prone or have sensitive skin, you may also want to look for a face sunscreen that's oil-free or hypoallergenic, respectively.
Find a sunscreen you'll actually wear
Probably the number one reason people hate wearing sunscreen: How it feels when it's on. And, fair, some feel really uncomfortable.
"Not all sunscreens are sticky or oily, though" says Christenson. "Plus, what's comfortable for you may vary from what works for someone else. Everyone's skin is different. Find what works for you and stick with it."