We know to wear sunscreen when we go outside, but is it necessary to wear it even when staying inside?
Dr. Heidi Prather at Westlake Dermatology and Dr. David Bushore at Balcones Dermatology and Aesthetics all agree -we should wear sunblock all of the time, even while indoors.
“When people ask, 'do I need to wear sunscreen?' I say, 'always need to wear sunscreen.' People say 'well I don’t even go outside,' well even if you’re inside, did you know that some of the lights inside your house emit some UV rays? Not a lot, but they do emit some, and the number one cause of aging of the skin - 90 percent of the skin aging - is due to one thing, and that’s from UV radiation,” said Bushore.
"You do have some damaging potential from just visible light spectrum where people can get Erythem, so that's just redness of the skin from the energy, you can get reactive oxygen species, and what that means is those are the reactive particles that will cause DNA damage that eventually leads to cancer,” said Prather.
Research shows it depends how close you are to the light source and the type of light bulb.
"The light bulbs that emit the most radiation, fluorescents, seem to do more, it's still not a lot. The old ones, the regular light bulbs, do emit some, too. The ones that emit the least are actually LEDs,” said Bushore.
Both Bushore and Erythem say the light is more dangerous for those with a medical condition -- like photosensitivity or a DNA repair deficiency disorder.
“You can get small amounts from light bulbs, even inside," Bushore said. "There are some people that are born with certain conditions where they can’t repair their DNA, and because of that they have to be careful even inside their own home."
“It’s more important to protect yourself from visible light if you want to be a little bit more stringent on your routine, but also if you have underlying medical conditions that are going to be more sensitive to visible light,” said Prather.
But it's also not just light bulbs, you can also see an impact if you're near a window.
“It is also important to wear sunscreen indoors because people get most of their sun exposure while commuting, or doing every day work life things like sitting at a desk next to a window, walking into offices with windows, so it’s important to protect ourselves and not necessarily rely on the tint of the windows,” said Prather.
“This also happens just driving in your car, so people don't think about it, they think ‘oh I’ve got a tint on my window.’ It may not be a UV tint, and so you need to make sure you get UV tinting on the windows. It helps protect, too,” said Bushore.
“The most cancer-causing rays are going to be in the UV spectrum, and for those, we’re going to get the majority of that from windows and UV exposure outdoors,” said Prather.
So how can you protect your skin?
The experts say you should always wear sunscreen, don't wait for it to be sunny.
They suggest wearing broad spectrum, which protects against UVA and UVB rays, with at least SPF 30.
And they say you should reapply every two to three hours, which can be difficult in some cases, so there are even make-up products now with SPF.
“With increasing rates of melanoma, especially in a younger population, its really important to encourage the people around you to wear sunscreen, and to reapply,” said Prather.
“The best sunscreen is the one that you like to use, so that’s the thing that I always like to say, SPF 30 is enough, but they’ve done studies that people don’t always apply enough SPF 30, so that’s why some people do these 50s and 100s but SPF 30 is blocking 97 percent of UV rays,” said Bushore.
“It is an important distinction to make between mineral based sunscreens, and chemical based sunscreens and its getting more and more confusing cause they are now being labeled as in-organic which is mineral based, and organic which is chemical based because the actual compound is an organic compound,” said Prather.
According to Prather, choosing between the two types is up to you.
“Chemical sunscreens work by actually absorbing UV energy and turning it into heat in the skin, and so a lot of reasons that you feel hot when you’re out in the sun after you put on a sunscreen, is the sunscreen working,” said Prather. “Mineral sunscreens work differently in that they’re actually reflecting UV rays, so you get protection from the sun by reflecting rather than absorbing and changing that UV energy in the skin.”