Long-term study shows daily sunscreen really does prevent wrinkles

June 21, 2013

A new study suggests applying suntan lotion every day has a big impact on skin aging.
A new study suggests applying suntan lotion every day has a big impact on skin aging.

Every summer, we read stories in the media about the importance of applying sunscreen every day. If you're one of the many people who enjoys a nice tan during the warmer seasons, then this advice can be easy to ignore - after all, how bad can it be to skip the lotion one or two days a week? You may change your tune, however, after learning about a new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, which suggests that regular applications of sunscreen can make a big difference in the appearance of your skin.

Avoid that leathery look
Researchers gathered a group of individuals younger than 55 and asked them to apply sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher to their head, neck, arms and hands every morning after bathing, after spending more than a few hours in direct sunlight, or after perspiring heavily. Another group was asked to apply sunscreen "at their discretion." To act as a control group, some participants were given placebo pills or daily B-carotene supplements daily. Researchers took impressions of the back of the participants' hands at the initiation of the study and again 4.5 years later. These impressions were able to show microscopic changes in the skin, including signs of aging. 

According to the Wall Street Journal, the participants who used sunscreen on a daily basis showed 24 percent less skin aging compared to individuals who were allowed to apply lotion at their own discretion.

"This is great fodder for us to encourage people to use sunscreen," dermatologist Jeffrey Dover told the news source. "I will quote this paper every day."

Years in the sun
This study may prompt young people to protect their skin from the sun, but what about those of us who have already begun to show signs of aging? While it's still a good idea to apply sunscreen to prevent further wrinkles from appearing, it may be wise to book an appointment with a board-certified plastic surgeon to discuss anti-aging options. Photorejuvination is one procedure that can eliminate sun spots and other signs of aging on the skin, including on the hands where they're often most evident. For deep wrinkles on the face, dermal fillers or a facelift may be better options.


The mission of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) includes medical education, public education and patient advocacy. Plastic Surgery News Briefs are summaries of current stories found through various news and magazine outlets that relate to or mention plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures. The views expressed in these news articles do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ASAPS, but are merely published as an educational service to our members and the general public. For additional information on these subjects and other plastic surgery related topics, please go to www.surgery.org

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The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), is recognized as the world’s leading organization devoted entirely to aesthetic plastic surgery and cosmetic medicine of the face and body.  ASAPS is comprised of over 2,600 Plastic Surgeons; active members are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (USA) or by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and have extensive training in the complete spectrum of surgical and non-surgical aesthetic procedures. International active members are certified by equivalent boards of their respective countries. All members worldwide adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and must meet stringent membership requirements.

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