Wearing sunscreen indoors? Yeah, you need to—and not because of the sun

All that increased screen time is effing with your skin
Wearing sunscreen indoors? Yeah, you need to—and not because of the sun
RAYDENE HANSEN
CosmoBy Cosmo -

Let’s be real: Working from home for what feels like 93,458 days now has turned basically all our routines upside-down. Some of us are trying to retain a sense of normalcy by putting on makeup every day and finally mastering an acne routine, while others are completely rejecting things like, um, pants (who is really sliding on jeans rn?). But where does that leave products usually reserved for the outdoors, like sunscreen?

As a dedicated sunscreen wearer, I’ve been questioning if my daily layer of SPF is even worth it, considering how little I’ve been leaving my apartment these last few months. I mean, sunscreen is mainly supposed to protect you from the sun, right? Wrong. Kinda. Because as I quickly found out after chatting with the experts, sunscreen does way more than just protect your skin when you’re outside—it's also majorly beneficial at preventing skin damage, wrinkles, and dark spots that can creep up when you’re sitting on your couch, scrolling through Instagram.

Why is sunscreen so important?

The gist: The sun gives off two different kinds of rays, UVA rays (the damage- and cancer-causing kind) and UVB rays (the sunburn-causing kind). Both rays can cause both short-term and long-term skin damage, like burns, dark spots, fine lines, melasma, premature aging, and even skin cancer. Sunscreen (of at least SPF 30) can help prevent all that, so long as you slather it on every single day—even if you’re inside all day.

Do you need to wear sunscreen indoors?

According to dermatologists, YUP! Especially if you’re near windows/sunlight at all. “Windows block most of the UVB rays that can cause burns, redness, and potentially cancer, but they don’t do as good of a job with blocking UVA rays,” says dermatologist Dhaval Bhanusali, MD, founder of Hudson Dermatology and Laser in New York City. And, reminder, UVA rays are the extra-dangerous kind, penetrating deeper into your skin than UVB rays to cause a breakdown in collagen (which makes your skin less bouncy and resilient) and a genetic damaging of your cells (which can ultimately lead to cancer).

So unless you live in an underground bunker with zero natural light (in which case, wow, what great Wi-Fi), you need to be slathering on the sunscreen daily. Just make sure the formula you’re using has two key things: SPF of at least 30, and the words “broad-spectrum,” which “blocks both UVA and UVB rays coming in from your window,” says Dana Stern, MD, a dermatologist at Laser & Skin Surgery Center in New York. You’d think a broad-spectrum formula would be a given in 2020, but, surprisingly, a ton of sunscreens only offer protection against UVB rays, so really pay attention to the label.

FYI: Your computer can also damage your skin

It’s not just the light from your windows or your daily walk that can lead to skin damage. Blue light—i.e., the glowing light from your smartphone and computer screen known as high-energy visible light, or HEV—can screw with your face, too, leading to dryness, irritation, and early signs of aging.

“The inflammatory response that blue light incites can exacerbate redness and set off enzymes in the skin that break down collagen and elastin proteins,” Loretta Ciraldo, MD, a dermatologist in Aventura, Florida, has told Cosmo. Translation: All that screen time can subtly, yet potently, irritate your face over time.

But don’t freak out—there’s only so much you can do, right? Just make sure that the SPF you’re slathering on each morning is a mineral-based sunscreen (rather than a chemical sunscreen), which tends to protect you better against all kinds of light, since it acts as a physical barrier against pollutants, rays, etc.

So which sunscreens are best?

Believe it or not, there are comfortable-AF SPFs that you’ll actually want to wear at home. Think: Formulas that aren’t greasy, sticky, or chalky and won’t make you feel like you’re wearing a mask. And rather than have you sort through a trillion options online, I went ahead and rounded up the eight best chemical and mineral sunscreens, below.

1. BEST GEL SUNSCREEN

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Sunscreen SPF 50, Dhs65 at Carrefour

This gel will make you look forward to putting on your SPF, especially on those ~steamy~ summer days. It feels cool on your skin (literally) and melts down to a dewy (not greasy!) finish. Pro tip: Store this sunscreen in the fridge on extra-hot days for a blast of cold.

2. BEST CC CREAM SUNSCREEN

It Cosmetics CC+ Cream Illumination SPF 50+Dhs125 at Selfridges

“You can check off a lot of boxes with this sunscreen,” says Dr. Stern, who quite literally raved about this sunscreen while I spoke with her. Not only does the tinted CC cream offer physical protection against the sun’s rays, but it’s also got a long wear time and leaves your skin with subtle glowy effect.

3. BEST BRIGHTENING SUNSCREEN

Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer SPF 30, Dhs201 at Noon.

This cult-favorite sunscreen also happens to be Dr. Bhanusali’s go-to each morning and for good reason: On top of its fresh scent and lightweight feel, this SPF moisturizer uses soy, which he says can help even out blotchy skin and brighten up dark spots.

4. BEST TINTED MINERAL SUNSCREEN

CeraVe Face Sheer Tint Hydrating Sunscreen SPF 30, Dhs133 at Noon

This tinted SPF ensures that your dry patches get the moisture they need throughout the day with a blend of hyaluronic acid and ceramides (an ingredient that strengthens your skin barrier to lock in moisture). It’s also spiked with an ever-so-slight tint that may look chalky at first but buffs out to be completely transparent.

5. BEST SUNSCREEN FOR OILY SKIN

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Clear Skin Dry Touch Sunscreen SPF 60, Dhs137 at Aster Online

This oil-free sunscreen leaves your skin with a silky-matte finish, making it truly excellent for oily skin types. It's also water-resistant for an hour, so if you do plan on taking an extra-long walk, you’ll be covered with this one.

6. BEST SUNSCREEN PRIMER

Supergoop Glowscreen Sunscreen SPF 40, Dhs140 at Revolve

Still want to wear makeup at home? I feel you. This non-greasy SPF doubles as a face primer to keep your makeup in place all day (if, you know, you’re even wearing makeup these days). It also enhances your glow with a slightly pearlescent finish.

7. BEST STICK SUNSCREEN

Sun Bum Sunscreen Face Stick SPF 30, Dhs93 at Nisnass

Sticks make it easy to reapply your SPF between Zoom meetings, but this one’s dreamy coconut scent and non-messy texture (no sticky or oily fingers here!) make it so that you’ll actually want to.

8. THIS WEIGHTLESS POWDER SUNSCREEN

Peter Thomas Roth Instant Mineral SPF 45, Dhs110 at Revolve

If your oily skin makes it so that you truly can’t stand the feel of traditional sunscreens, we have good news for you. This SPF feels nothing like other options with its powder formula that absorbs any excess oils on your face.

Via Cosmopolitan US