Having too much exposure to sunlight and getting burnt is most dangerous when it occurs before the age of 18, but that doesn't mean adults are in the clear. In fact, as we get older and our skin gets thinner, we're more likely to experience burns and the subsequent cell mutation that can lead to skin cancer.
"Older people do have fewer surface lipids, making the skin more dehydrated and vulnerable to greater inflammation," says Mary Lupo, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New Orleans, Louisiana. "Also, the top layers of skin thin with age, allowing UV to penetrate more easily and deeper." And according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, "the body’s natural ability to repair damaged DNA diminishes, increasing the likelihood of abnormal cell growth that can cause mutations leading to skin cancer."
- Ellen Marmur, Dr. Ellen Marmur is a NYC-based dermatologist and founder of MMSkincare.
- Heather Woolery-Lloyd, MD, Miami-based board-certified dermatologist
- Heidi A Waldorf, MD, board-certified dermatologist
- Loretta Ciraldo, MD, FAAD, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Dr. Loretta Skincare
- Mary Lupo, MD, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Lupo Center for Aesthetic and General Dermatology
Despite being more susceptible to skin cancer, people over 50 are less likely to use sunscreen, found the Centers for Disease Control.
"As a dermatologist who has treated thousands of skin cancers and precancers, I believe that not a single person should test out their chances of getting sunburn," says Loretta Ciraldo, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Aventura, Florida. "Sunscreen is a must if you want to avoid aging changes and skin cancer."
Beyond protecting you from literal cancer, sunscreen is also the best anti-aging product out there. "As a second-generation derm, I don’t have sun damage at 57, nearing 58, years old," says Heidi A Waldorf, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Nanuet, NY. "My biggest concern is maintaining my skin—not wiping away old damage." SPF is something you want to put on every day, rain or shine, because "we can still get UV rays through windows, while driving, and even during short exposure times like walking a dog," says Dr. Lupo.
Finding a sunscreen you love is super personal. "When I recommend sunscreens, I always tell patients that if they find a sunscreen that they like better they should use that," says Heather Woolery-Lloyd, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Miami, Florida. "It's really important to emphasize that the best sunscreen is the sunscreen you want to put on every day." So to give you some inspiration, we have five dermatologists ages 50 and up here to share their favorite sunscreen for mature skin.
Best sunscreen for mature skin
“I love this sunscreen and use it as a daily moisturizer. It contains 11 percent zinc oxide and phytolase, a plant-based DNA repair enzyme that reduces the development of actinic keratoses and related skin cancers,” says Dr. Waldorf. “The base is silky, absorbs quickly, and layers well over serums or heavier moisturizers and under makeup without pilling. Plus, it’s water resistant for 40 minutes, which is very helpful when sweating walking around town or running errands in warmer weather.”
“Laura Mercier has a great tinted moisturizer with SPF 30,” says Dr. Woolery-Lloyd. “I love it because it is a great moisturizer with SPF and offers lightweight coverage.” Pro tip: If you want to keep the coverage light, layer your tinted SPF over a plain sunscreen so you get the right amount of coverage without feeling too cakey.
“I am a big fan of the entire Neova sunscreen line because of the added anti-cancer benefits of its DNA repair technology,” says Dr. Lupo. Although she says picking a favorite sunscreen is like picking her favorite child, she touts the Silc Sheer as her number-one pick because it’s lightweight and has a nice tint. It’s made with DNA repair enzymes, two physical screening agents, two light-diffusing factors, and EGT, a hyper-antioxidant for complete protection and luminosity.
“Our award-winning Dr. Loretta Universal Glow Daily Defense is a mineral SPF 40 with powerhouse antioxidant lipochroman, shea butter to super hydrate, light-reflecting particles to minimize wrinkle depth and blur imperfections, and marine extract ectoin for added visible and infrared light protection,” says Dr. Ciraldo of the SPF from her eponymous line. “It’s universally blendable for all Fitzpatrick skin types. I love that it doesn’t smell or look like mineral sunscreen.”
Dr. Marmur loves this SPF from her skin-care line MMSkincare. “It’s mineral based, works well for acne and rosacea skin types, brightens with ingredients such as niacinamide, and keeps skin hydrated while promoting an even tone with ingredients such as lactic and hyaluronic acid,” she says.
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