Unless you’re heading to the beach or hitting the trail for a half-day hike, sunscreen’s probably not a part of your morning routine. But if you want to keep fine lines off your face, make room for it. New research suggests that in addition to fending off skin cancer, using broad-spectrum SPF (the kind that blocks both UVA and UVB rays) on a daily basis helps keep skin looking younger longer.
The study, published in Annals of Internal Medicine, included 900 Australian adults between the ages of 25 and 55. Half of the participants applied sunscreen to their heads, necks, arms, and hands every morning (and reapplied it after showering, sweating or spending more than a couple of hours in the sun) for four years. Another group was advised to apply sunscreen at their own discretion. Participants also received either a beta-carotene supplement—an antioxidant touted to have an anti-aging effect—or a placebo pill to take each day.
At the end of the study, researchers compared before and after impressions from the back of study participants’ hands, evaluating for signs of sun-induced aging, like dryness, wrinkles, uneven pigmentation, and loss of elasticity.
Participants in the daily sunscreen group showed 24 percent less skin aging than those who applied SPF at their own discretion. The skin-saving effect of sunscreen was observed in all daily users, regardless of their age.
But beta-carotene didn’t do much good when it came to keeping study participants wrinkle-free. There were no differences in skin aging between participants who took the daily supplements and those who were given a placebo.
Now that you’ve got another reason to slather on SPF, read Practice Safe Sunscreen for expert tips on how to purchase the best SPF as well as how and when to apply it. Then get health tips delivered directly to your inbox by signing up for MF’s monthly Health Report newsletter.
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