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September 14, 2022 — 9:02 AM

Ask any derm, and they’ll tell you the key to healthy skin aging is preventive care—but sometimes it can be difficult to find the motivation to keep up with those practices, especially if you’re not dealing with skin aging concerns at that moment in time. Those hypothetical scenarios can be hard to grasp given that they’re, well, hypothetical. 

Maintaining a healthy skin care routine is great for aging skin, but it won’t go far if you skip the SPF. In fact, there’s now photo evidence that may help motivate you (or those close to you) to keep wearing sunscreen—and not just on your face. 

Why you should wear sunscreen on your face and neck. 

Last year, the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology released a study that included a photo of a 92-year-old woman who wore sunscreen on her face but not her neck for over 40 years. Over the past week, this photo has gone viral on TikTok and other social media platforms.

It’s understandable why this photo is getting so much buzz—the difference between her levels of photoaging (aka physical skin aging) is stark, to say the least. Severe solar damage on the neck resulted in way more wrinkles, more age spots, and looser skin. 

Skin aging differs from person to person, of course, which is why it can be hard to compare two people with different SPF habits side by side. However, this photo provides the perfect example of what skin can look like if you keep up with regular sunscreen application—and if you don’t. 

If you think we’re telling you something you already know, that’s great! Keep on slathering your SPF and practicing safe sun habits. However, despite reminders to use sunscreen every single day, surveys indicate that only 11% of Americans actually do so. So to sum up: Spread the word.

Cheek and neck of a 92-year-old female, who used UV-protective moisturizers on her face but not on the neck for 40+ years.

— Avi Bitterman, MD (@AviBittMD) September 2, 2022

In case you haven’t heard them before, here are a few basic sun care tips:

  • Don’t use SPF as an excuse to bake in the sun all day long.
  • But don’t be afraid of the great outdoors! Sunlight is a vital part of our overall well-being (especially as it relates to your circadian rhythm), and we encourage you to enjoy your time outside. We just ask that you practice smart sun care.
  • Reapply your SPF every two hours when in the sun.
  • Don’t forget lip & scalp sunscreen.
  • Reapply your SPF if you’re going in and out of water.
  • Pay attention to your moles—and go to the derm if you’re concerned.

A photo displaying 40 years of sun damage is gaining viral traction, and hopefully, sun care knowledge will follow suit. If you’re not familiar with what sun damage looks like, how sunscreen works, or you just want to learn a bit more about safe sun hygiene, check out this breakdown on sun care for more information. 

Heal Your Skin.

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