Will sunscreen keep your skin from aging?

  • Blog Post by: Colleen Stoxen
  • June 11, 2013 - 3:53 PM

New evidence shows that a daily slathering of sunscreen may not only protect you from skin cancer and sunburn, it may keep your skin from aging.

That discovery comes from a study just published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine. Australian researchers divided 903 white adults under age 55 — the average age was 39 — into two groups. One group was asked to apply SPF 15 (or greater) sunscreen on their head, neck, hands and arms every morning, after every bath or shower, after spending a few hours in the sun and after sweating heavily. The other participants could use sunscreen however they liked.

Dermatologists examined images of skin on the back of the subjects’ hands at the start of the study and again at the end, four-and-a-half years later. The doctors were not told which patients’ exams were from the daily sunscreen group or the control group. The experts saw almost no significant indications of photoaging, the visible aging effect of ultraviolet light on skin which includes lines, wrinkles and coarseness, among the group asked to use the sunscreen daily. Overall, members of that group showed 24% less signs of skin aging than the control group. (About three-quarters of the group asked to use sunscreen daily reported that they applied it at least three or four times a week; only about a third of the control group used it as much.)

Dermatologists were not surprised by the results of the Australian research, but quickly declared the findings to be significant. The most significant previous research of sunscreen’s effects on skin involved hairless mice.

It remains unclear whether sunscreen would have a similar anti-aging effect on the skin of adults over 55, when the natural effects of aging, including a lifetime of exposure to the sun, tend to accelerate.

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