If I were sent to a deserted island and forced to pick just one beauty product to bring along, you can bet your bottom dollar I’d be bringing sunscreen.
Whatever the hypothetical circumstances—be it stranded in the arctic or banished to a remote commune—the answer will always be sunscreen.
Why? It’s simple really: SPF is unequivocally the most important part of any skincare routine. I’d go so far as to say a skincare routine without SPF is absolutely useless.
I know, harsh words from your resident skincare junkie—harsh, but true. Let me break it down for you.
What is SPF?
SPF stands for sun protection factor, which is the theoretical time one could spend in the sun without getting sunburned while wearing an SPF of that amount.
So, for example, an SPF of 30 means you could stay in the sun roughly 30 times longer than you could without sunscreen. The higher SPF, the longer the protection—not the stronger the protection.
In general, we want a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.
What exactly does sunscreen protect against?
Short answer: UVA and UVB rays.
UVB rays are your typical day-at-the beach rays—they can cause sunburns, hyperpigmentation, and even skin cancer.
UVA rays are a bit more confusing, because you can’t really escape them. They make up 95% of the UV radiation on the planet and can penetrate through clouds and windows—meaning, yes, they can still get to you indoors (even on a cloudy day).
This means that UVA rays are just as prevalent in the winter as they are during the summer. In some cases, UV rays can be more intense in the winter.
When looking for a sunscreen, make sure it’s labeled “broad spectrum,” which means it protects against both UVA and UVB rays.
So, what are the benefits of wearing sunscreen daily?
Oh my god, there are so many. The sun kind of wreaks havoc on us mere mortals, and sunscreen is our suit of armor. Wearing sunscreen every single day is absolutely key to looking and feeling good.
Let’s go over a few of sunscreen’s benefits:
- It keeps you looking young: A whopping 90% of all signs of aging come from UVA rays. No bueno. Sunscreen protects the skin from that sort of damage.
- It keeps skin tone even: The sun can cause some serious dark spots and bouts of hyperpigmentation.
- It minimizes the effects of global warming on your skin: Yup, global warming is bad for your skin. The ozone layer usually acts as a sun shield for the earth by absorbing harmful UVB rays before they reach the ground. Unfortunately, the ozone layer is depleting, so our bodies need added protection from these rays.
- It decreases your risk of developing cancer: Daily use of sunscreen drastically decreases the risk of developing skin cancer—especially against the deadliest form of skin cancer, melanoma.
- It minimizes skin damage: Whether you burn or not, skin is damaged by sun exposure over your lifetime. Sunscreen helps minimize the damage.
Which sunscreen should I use?
There are a lot of different types of sunscreen. The one you should use is the one you’ll wear daily—as long as it’s broad spectrum and SPF 30+, you’re good to go. Here are some of my favorites:
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Danielle Cohen is assistant editor of all things Lindsay Silberman. She also runs her own beauty blog, Yellow Sweats Status, as a side hustle. When she’s not binging true crime podcasts, she can be found researching, testing, and raving about beauty products to people who didn’t ask. You can learn more about Dani and her favorite products on her Instagram and her blog.
If you make a purchase through one of the links included in this post, I may make a small commission. As you know, I only feature products that I genuinely love.