Why you should use sunscreen every day – and why SPF moisturisers aren't as good

Now the weather's hotting up, sunscreen is vital for protecting yourself from the risk of skin cancers

Woman using SPF sunscreen to prevent cancer
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The weather is finally hotting up after a winter that felt, thanks to COVID restrictions, like it lasted forever. Exercise outdoors is going to become much more pleasant – and popular. Consequently, the best running shoes for men, best running shoes for women and the best workout shorts for both sexes are in demand as we hit our local parks and pavements.

However, now we're starting to show some skin, it's important to stay protected. A report from the American Society of Dermatologic Surgery compared people who used sunscreen for one year to those who didn't, finding an enormous 52% reduction in skin clarity, texture and pigmentation caused by sun damage. Protecting your skin can not only prevent you getting harmful sunburns, but it actively reverses the signs of aging caused by previous sun damage.

Of course, the biggest benefit of wearing high-factor sunscreen is it prevents harmful UV rays from damaging your skin, reducing the risk of skin cancers or melanoma. 

Skincancer.org says "Regular daily use of SPF 15 sunscreen can reduce your risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) by about 40 percent, and lower your melanoma risk by 50 percent." That's a stat we can't afford to ignore now the weather's getting better. 

Woman exercising outdoors after protecting herself with sunscreen

(Image credit: Getty Images)

You might be tempted to begin using a moisturiser with SPF included in it, which seems like a great way to take care of your skin health in more days than one. But a study from the journal PLOS One found people who applied SPF moisturisers on a day-to-day basis tended to miss sensitive areas. The study measured the hue saturation of people wearing both sunscreen and SPF moisturiser, finding the sunscreen crowd more effectively covered.

Don't be put off by the risks: as long as you're effectively covered and protected, working out outdoors in the sun confers a ton of benefits. For starters, it's harder: your body heats up much more quickly, so your usual routine will become a lot harder in hotter climes.

Another benefit is the effect your body gets soaking up all that vitamin D: a study by Brazilian researchers found exercising outdoors rather than sunbathing helps the body generate additional vitamin D, which boosts our mood and assists in developing our immune systems and healthy bones.

Matt Evans

Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and is currently Fitness and Wellbeing Editor at TechRadar, covering all things exercise and nutrition on Fit&Well's tech-focused sister site. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen runner, gym-goer, and infrequent yogi. His top fitness tip? Stretch.