We all know better than to head to the beach without a bottle of sunscreen. What some of us might not know, however, is that ultraviolet radiation can cause skin damage any time you leave your house -- even in the car. Accordingly, dermatologists recommend that you use sunscreen every day to combat the many ways the sun can hurt your skin. The sun's rays harm you by penetrating deep into the skin, damaging DNA, destroying collagen and depleting your outer layer of essential nutrients like vitamin A. Even a few severe sunburns from childhood can put you at a higher risk of developing skin cancer as an adult, so parents should be particularly concerned for their children.
Over time, UV radiation also results in wrinkles, skin discoloration and spots, adding years to your appearance. And while sunscreen can go a long way towards protecting your skin from damage, you need to make sure to use it correctly. To start, look for sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum protection, which means that it blocks both UVA and UVB rays. Sunscreens with a higher sun protection factor (SPF) will block a higher percentage of UVB rays -- an SPF 45 lotion, for example, blocks out about 99 percent of them [source: Barrett]. Also, make sure to reapply the sunscreen evenly and regularly. Now that there are spray-on sunscreens as well as lotions and even bug sprays that offer UV protection, it's easier than ever to keep your skin healthy and looking great.