Getting a bit of sunshine every day is good for your mind, body and soul. But catching rays on naked skin (as in, without sunscreen) is a big no-no that puts your skin at risk of cancer, premature aging, hyperpigmentation and other signs of sun damage. We chatted with a few dermatologists about why we should be wearing sunscreen every day and how it can help to prevent dark spots from worsening and reduce future hyperpigmentation. Here’s what they had to say.
How is the sun related to dark spots?
Hyperpigmentation is essentially caused by an overproduction of melanin, the pigment in our skin. This can be triggered by a bad breakout, too much time in the sun, a rash or an injury to the skin.
“UV rays stimulate pigment-producing cells, leading to hyperpigmentation,” explains Dr. Susan Bard, an NYC-based, board-certified dermatologist. “This is especially true if one has existing inflammation in the skin, like acne. Inflammation activates pigment-producing cells, causing them to release their pigment into the skin. Sun exacerbates darkening by further activating these cells, leading to even greater pigment deposition.”
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How does sunscreen prevent hyperpigmentation?
Your skin cells produce excess melanin as a protective measure in response to UV light. So, when SPF blocks that light, it also prevents the melanin production in the first place. “For any type of unwanted pigment, your dermatologist will recommend sun protection as part of your plan,” explains Dr. Todd Minars, a Florida-based, board-certified dermatologist and Assistant Clinical Professor of Dermatology at the University of Miami School of Medicine. “By blocking your skin's ability to darken those hyperpigmentation regions, you'll achieve a more even tone.”
All pigment that results from sun exposure, including a tan, is a sign of skin damage. To help you get into the habit of wearing sunscreen every day, choose one that does double duty, instead of an extra skincare step that you need to remember. Superlight Sunscreen doubles as a light primer with a skin-like finish and sheer green tint that balances signs of redness instantly.
Physical? Chemical? Which sunscreen do I choose?
While any sunscreen is better than none, all of the dermatologists we spoke to recommended physical sunscreen as their preferred option. “Always choose a physical blocker — these do not get absorbed on the skin, as they sit on the surface to reflect the UV rays,” says Dr. Vindhya Veerula, an Indiana-based, board-certified dermatologist and medical advisor for eMediHealth. “Chemical blockers are first absorbed, then block UV rays. Overall, physical blocks are safer for your body and the environment, and are my go-to recommendation.” Plus, the mineral-based ingredients in physical sunscreens, like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, are recognized by the FDA as safe and effective.
Treat your dark spots today, avoid more spots tomorrow
If you are suffering from hyperpigmentation, our Micropoint for Dark Spots twice-weekly microneedle patch can help brighten post-pimple spots in just two uses.
And even if you don’t have hyperpigmentation now, dark spots are bound to happen to just about everyone at some point in their lives. Using Superlight Sunscreen every day is a great way to avoid hyperpigmentation as much as possible, and to ensure that you don’t worsen any existing spots.