Why You Need to Wear Sunscreen All Year Round, Especially in Southern California

You may remember to wear sunscreen in summer, when the sun’s rays seem most strong, but the damaging effects of ultraviolet light can impact your skin any day of the year. This is true just about anywhere in the country, but especially so in Southern California where an active lifestyle with surfing, swimming, and playing outdoors happens throughout all the seasons.

Damage to your skin from the sun results from the effects of ultraviolet (UV) light. The sun emits both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB). UVA leads to sun-damaged skin that’s more wrinkled with freckles and age spots while UVB can cause sunburn and skin cancer. This ultraviolet light is beamed from the sun all year round, which is why you need sunscreen.


Photoaging is the signs of aging, such as changes in pigmentation and the development of wrinkles and fine lines, that occur naturally with age. But when you spend a lot of time in the sun without sunscreen, these effects appear sooner and with more intensity.

UVA damages your skin’s cells and depletes the amount of elastin, a skin-strengthening compound. Your skin sends in metalloproteinases to repair sun-damaged skin, but the result is an uneven complexion. Furthermore, your skin tries to protect you from the sun by producing more melanin. While melanin gives you a tan, it can build up in specific places on your face, shoulders, neck, arms, and hands in response to sunlight.

Skin cancer risk

UVB puts your skin at risk of developing skin cancer. All types of skin cancer can be serious, but are easily treatable if caught early enough. Your best bet is to protect yourself against skin cancer with sunscreen worn year round.

Melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, develops mostly from sun overexposure. But squamous cell and basal cell carcinoma are slower growing and are less likely to spread, but can lead to disfigurement and serious complications when not treated. Both are also largely a result of unprotected time in the sun.

Sunscreen to the rescue

The sun emits dangerous UV rays year round, so sunscreen is a must even in the winter months. This is especially true in Southern California where you can visit the beach at Christmastime. Plus, ultraviolet rays can shine even on cloudy days, so don’t let a little smog and haze keep you from protecting your skin.

Select sunscreen that’s labeled as “broad spectrum,” as it protects you from both UVA and UVB rays. Also select one with an SPF of 30 or higher. Apply sunscreen to all sun-exposed areas, not just your face.

If you plan to spend a lot of time in the sun, such as at the beach or biking, reapply sunscreen every few hours or after you sweat a lot or spend time in water. Those with darker skin aren’t immune to the damaging effects of the sun either. You’re just as vulnerable to skin damage or cancer and should wear sunscreen.


If you skipped the sunscreen when you were younger and fear you did some damage, visit Advanced Skin Care Medical Center and see Dr. Kristen Aguirre. She can apply her dermatology experience to improving the appearance and health of your skin. Call our office in Fullerton, California, or click the button to schedule an appointment.

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