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Biggest mistake of 2020? Not wearing sunscreen indoors

Dermatologists say sunscreen should be worn daily, regardless of your location

Quarantine has put a pause on our daily makeup routines. The months we’ve spent inside have given our face time to breathe and recuperate from the usual debris of makeup and skincare products. While we’re all taking advantage of quarantine to go barefaced and finally get our skin some much-needed purifying and cleansing, we shouldn’t forget to protect it, too. 

Put aside all your preconceived notions about sunscreen being a gloopy and thick paste reserved only for beach trips and hear us out. Sunscreen is helpful in shielding skin against harmful light rays even when you’re inside. Yep, sunscreen is important even if we’re staying indoors. 

Unless you’re in a box with no windows, it’s highly likely that you’re still exposed to the sun’s rays. Most glass windows don’t block UVA rays—the type of rays that can seep into deeper layers of skin and accelerate the appearance of dark spots. Prolonged and unprotected exposure to this type of sun ray can make skin leathery and dry. Studies even point to UVA rays being a contributing factor to the development of skin cancer. 

It’s not just natural light we have to protect ourselves from. In an interview with Glamour, Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City says that LED bulbs and displays also have the same effect as UVA rays. 

“Lightbulbs, especially LED bulbs, as well as the screen from your computer or device emit high-energy visible (HEV) light. This is light in the blue spectrum that has been shown to penetrate into your skin and contribute to the development of both wrinkles and dark spots,” says Dr. Zeichner. 

For those of us who have been on our phones and mobile devices for the majority of quarantine, even if we’re not always working in sunny places, this is enough of a reason to consider incorporating SPF (sun protection factor) into our routine. If you’ve done this before quarantine even started, good for you—it’s just a matter of building that habit again. But if you’re like me, who barely remembered to apply sunscreen on my best days and completely went without on my busy days, then it’s gonna take a lot of work. 

Thankfully, sunscreen and SPF formulations these days are a far cry from the clown white cream of days past. Many moisturizers, primers and foundations already have an SPF component to them, eliminating one more step to remember. 

However, if you’re looking for a sunscreen that can stand on its own, look for sunscreens labeled broad spectrum and contain zinc oxide and iron oxide. These elements block both UVA rays and blue light. Make sure to cover all exposed areas of the face—neck, ears, chin and forehead—to make sure that the protection is full coverage. It’s also best to re-apply every few hours, but if you’re busy with your quarantine errands, you can time sunscreen application with your breaks and make it into a routine that lasts.

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