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At what age does most sun damage occur? Sun protection routines for different ages

Regardless of how much time you spend outside, protecting your skin from the sun is important.

Whether you're often outdoors or spend much of your day sitting near a window, you may be wondering—at what age does most sun damage occur? Fortunately, we have the answer, as well as advice on how to protect your skin at every stage of life.

At what age does most sun damage occur?

Sun damage can occur at any age, regardless of your skin type.

Sun damage is cumulative, meaning the damage stacks up; the sun's rays can damage skin cells at any age. Everyone, regardless of their level of skin damage, needs to protect themselves from the sun.

The good news is, even people with significant damage can improve their skin health and appearance by consistently using sun protection.

How can you protect your skin from the sun?

Take these simple steps to protect yourself and your loved ones at any age.

Ages 6 months - 11 years

The earlier you teach kids how to protect their skin, the more likely they will continue doing so into adulthood.

Make sun protection fun by letting kids pick out their own sun protective clothing and accessories. Encourage children to apply sunscreen every day by making shapes using sunscreen or using an interesting sunscreen bottle. You can also let kids try a variety of sunscreen types, like cream, liquid, or sticks, and see which they like best!

Ages 12-21

Teenagers and young adults should apply sunscreens of SPF 30 or higher every day.

Use a light, mineral-based sunscreen that feels pleasant on the skin. Always remind them to reapply sunscreens and provide sun-protective clothing and accessories when out for long periods in the sun. Make it a fun experience to look for new styles of UPF apparel and accessories, and help them with styling their wardrobe! Present sun protection as an “adult” thing to do, and frame it positively. 

Ages 22-40

Most will notice their skin changing towards their late 20s and 30s.

As skin damage accumulates and we start losing collagen, sun damage becomes more apparent. Apply sunscreen with a minimum SPF 30 (we prefer SPF 40+) every day. Use a light, mineral-based sunscreen that is less likely to clog pores or interfere with makeup — especially if you are planning to conceive!

Keep sunscreens everywhere you may need them, or keep one on you or in your daily bag for quick reapplication.

Ages 41-64

You know the drill: Apply sunscreens with a minimum of SPF 30 every day.

If you are not planning to conceive, you may have a wider range of options to choose from, including chemical sunscreens. Be sure to supplement your sunscreen efforts with sun protective apparel and accessories, which will make it easier to stick to the habit daily.

Ages 65+

As we age, our skin needs more help staying healthy and safe from sun damage.

Therefore, it's more important than ever to use SPF 30 or higher skin products daily. A combination of moisturizing, nourishing, and UV protective products is even better.

It's also critical to regularly check for suspicious moles or other skin changes and notify your healthcare provider about any concerns.

Every Age

UV rays are strongest between the house of 10 in the morning and 4 in the afternoon. Consider the following when you're outside during this time:

  • Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat
  • Wear sunglasses that filter UV light
  • Actively seek out shade during the day

Never use tanning beds, which can damage skin even faster and more severely than sun exposure.

When you do go out in the sun, limit your exposure based on the local UV index.

At what age does most sun damage occur? Find the perfect sun protection for your age and lifestyle

At what age does most sun damage occur? While many people accrue the most significant skin damage early in life (due to lifestyle choices), everyone's skin health and appearance can benefit from sun protection, regardless of age.