Younger You Blog

Is Slathering on the Sunscreen Really Worth It?


People who diligently use sunscreen every day can slow or even prevent for a time the development of wrinkles and sagging skin, a new study found. Although dermatologists have long told people to use sunscreen to prevent aging, this is the first research to show an actual effect on the appearance of skin, researchers said.

The study involved 900 white people ages 25 to 55 in Australia, where intense sun exposure is a fact of life. Most had fair skin, and nearly all burned in the sun. Most were using sunscreen at least some of the time, and two-thirds wore hats in the sun. [Source: NYTimes.com]

But researchers wanted to find out what would happen to skin if people tried to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen all the time over four and a half years. Half of the study participants were told to continue their usual practices, and the other half to slather on sunscreen daily.

The result, the researchers reported on Monday in The Annals of Internal Medicine, is that those assigned to use sunscreen every day had noticeably more resilient and smoother skin than those assigned to continue their usual practices.

The study also included nearly 900 people who were randomly assigned to take beta carotene, a nutritional supplement, or a placebo to see if the supplement prevented skin aging. It did not.

The sunscreen element of the study impressed other researchers. Dr. David R. Bickers, a dermatology professor at Columbia University who was not involved in the research, said it “makes it clear that extensive, consistent use of sunscreen can alter a pattern of what would be an inevitable progression of photo-aging.”

Until now, he said, most studies of sun-damaged skin were conducted with mice, not people, and it was not clear whether the results would be the same. Read More on NYTimes.ccom