Do you need to wear sunscreen inside? This is a discussion that I have with my husband on a regular basis. He is convinced that unless the sun is blazing hot and it’s high noon, there’s no reason to wear sunscreen. After similar conversations with friends and family, I figured it was time for a deep dive into this common misconception.
Do you need to wear sunscreen inside?
The short answer is yes. Even if you’re not going outside, or even if you’re outside but it’s cloudy, you’re still exposing your skin to damaging light–including harmful blue light from the many devices that we all use regularly.
In fact, numerous skin experts will tell you that if you’re not wearing sunscreen, all of the money you’re spending on skincare is worthless. Sunscreen is often the top recommended skincare product by doctors and skin experts.
Let’s repeat that one more time…
“If you’re spending money on skincare products and not wearing sunscreen, you’re throwing your money away.”
As someone who has invested in her skin a great deal over the last decade (especially because of all of the sun damage I exposed it to as a teenager), hearing this is enough to whip my butt into shape and take the 30 seconds a day to slather on a dime-sized amount of sunscreen as part of my morning routine.
Types of Light
UVA Rays and Affects on Your Skin
- Causes signs of aging, including wrinkles and loss of elasticity
- Breaks down collagen in skin, contributing to cancer formation
- Penetrates clouds and tinted windows/window coverings
UVB Rays and Affects on Your Skin
- Damages the skin’s DNA
- Creates an inflammatory response leading to sunburn
- Sunburns peel and expose new skin which is susceptible to increased damage
- Increased damage can lead to skin cancer
Blue Light and How It Affects the Skin
- Occurs through exposure to digital screens (phones, computers, etc.)
- Can lead to melasma and age spots through increased production of melanin
- Creates free radicals which breaks down collagen and reduces skin’s elasticity
Types of Sunscreens to Wear Inside and Outside
There are two main types of sunscreen, and they are categorized based on their ingredients and how they work on the skin.
The primary difference between chemical and physical sunscreens is that physical sunscreens create a physical barrier between the sun and your skin, hence the name. Physical sunscreens are also referred to as “mineral” sunscreens. You can usually identify them in stores without having to read the ingredients list by looking for the physical or mineral label.
In general, I tend to stick with either a physical sunscreen or a chemical sunscreen that is considered “clean”. I make the determination based on what I have going on that day, and do my best to ensure I’m not adding any unnecessary toxins into my skincare routine.
Chemical Sunscreens (Broad Spectrum)
- Absorb UV rays before entering the skin
- Ingredients can also be absorbed into the skin
- Depending on the ingredients, this could allow toxic ingredients to also absorb into the skin
Shop Chemical Sunscreens
Physical Sunscreens (Mineral Sunscreens)
- Sit on top of the skin, creating a physical barrier between harmful light
- Considered less likely to clog pores (good for oily/acne-prone skin)
- Contain iron oxide, zinc oxide or titanium oxide as active ingredients
Shop Physical Sunscreens
Other Ways to Protect Your Skin From the Sun
When you’re planning to be in direct sunlight or outside for an extended period of time (like going for a walk or spending the day at a zoo or other outdoor venue), it’s best to protect your skin beyond just wearing sunscreen. Hats are always a good idea to protect your face, and I never leave home without sunglasses. Lightweight layers, like linens, also provide protection without leaving you feeling overly warm, especially if you’re already dealing with warmer temperatures.
Favorite Accounts for Professional Skincare Advice
When it comes to skincare, I trust the experts–or people who have been in the industry for a long time. My favorite account for medical skincare advice is Jordan Harper. I’m just starting to implement some of her products into my skincare regimen to combat melasma and hyperpigmentation, a lovely gift from my first pregnancy. I also learn a lot from Anna Groves, a career beauty expert.