The Non Sun Protection–Related Benefits of Sunscreen

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With the days continuing to heat up (even when it feels like it’s not possible to go any higher in degrees), we can’t help but think about sun protection every time we step outside. Whether it is the dog days of summer or the dead of winter, SPF is a non-negotiable part of our skin-care routines, helping make sure we’re protected from damaging UV and blue-light rays even when it’s not overtly sunny.

While we know that wearing SPF daily is crucial to prevent dangerous and potentially life-threatening skin cancers, have you ever wondered what else your sunscreen is doing for your skin? In the age of multi-tasking products in skin care and makeup, it’s almost rare for a product to only do one thing. So, what are the non sun protection-related benefits of SPF? Ahead, derms tell all.

Featured Experts

  • Jeanine B. Downie, MD is a dermatologist in Montclair, NJ
  • Heidi A. Waldorf, MD is a dermatologist in New York
  • Janet Allenby, MD is a dermatologist in Delray Beach, FL

What are the benefits of SPF on the skin outside of sun protection?

“Sunscreen’s primary purpose is to reduce skin penetration of UV light which has been a long known cause of skin cancers and acceleration in signs of aging,” begins Delray Beach, FL dermatologist Janet Allenby, MD. “The goal is to get people to use sunscreen daily—possibly reapplying if you’re lucky—but we do know that people are time saturated with life as it is, so there is a benefit to adding ingredients into sunscreen formulas that could be helpful for their skin health and anti-aging endeavors.” So, what exactly can SPF do for our skin outside of protection? First up is hydration.

“The most common additional benefit of SPF is skin hydration,” says New York dermatologist Heidi A. Waldorf. “Using a daily moisturizer with UVA and UVB protective ingredients makes sun protection and skin-barrier protection fast, easy and automatic.” Dr. Allenby agrees noting that “as we age, we are losing some of our ability to hold or retain fluid in our skin cells—also known as trans epidermal water loss—which is part of why we see crepey, crinkly skin with age,” so adding SPF products into your routine that hydrate the skin will also create a better skin barrier.

But wait, there’s more. As Montclair, NJ dermatologist Jeanine B. Downie notes, “Some of the non-UV protection skin-care benefits of using SPF include decreasing free radical damage, improving collagen and elastin, improving texture, keeping pore size smaller and decreasing cutaneous itch.” Dr. Waldorf also adds that DNA repair technology is another common addition to SPF formulas that yields added skin-care benefits. In a more superficial sense, Dr. Allenby notes that tinted sunscreens can also function to smooth and blur the complexion, acting almost like a foundation for daily wear.

Derm-Approved, Skin-Loving SPF Formulas

1 / 7

ZO Skin Health Sheer Fluid Broad-Spectrum SPF 50 ($70)

With an SPF of 50, ZO Skin Health’s Sheer Fluid Broad-Spectrum SPF 50 does not skimp out on sun protection, but it also features an antioxidant-rich formula that helps to defend the skin against environmental aggressors like free radicals, and HEV blue light, making it one of Dr. Downie’s favorites.


Key Ingredients

Non-nano zinc oxide, melanin, exclusive antioxidant complex, bisabolol, ethyl ferulate, rosemary extract

Free From


2 / 7

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Sunscreen SPF 50 ($26)

Another one of Dr. Downie (and my) favorite skin-loving sunscreens, La Roche-Posay’s Anthelios Sunscreen SPF 50, a 100-percent mineral sunscreen, is fast-absorbing with no white cast, and features tons of skin-improving ingredients like exclusive antioxidant technologies, vitamin E and thermal spring water to soothe, protect and neutralize.

la roche posay anthelios spf

Key Ingredients

Cell-Ox Shield Technology, zinc oxide, vitamin E, La Roche-Posay Thermal Spring Water, titanium dioxide

Free From

Oil, parabens, fragrance, oxybenzone

3 / 7

Supergoop! Glowscreen Sunscreen SPF 40 ($38)

If you want a tinted SPF that will keep your skin protected all day long while also giving you light coverage and supermodel-like glow, Supergoop! Glowscreen is a must try. With hyaluronic acid, sea lavender and cocoa peptides, this multitasking formula protects from blue light damage, hydrates and boosts moisture for skin that is both safe and glowing.

supergoop glowscreen spf 40

Key Ingredients

Hyaluronic acid, vitamin B5, cocoa peptides, sea lavender, niacinamide

4 / 7

Alastin Hydratint Pro Mineral Broad Spectrum SPF 36 ($76)

Water resistant, fragrance free, and safe for all skin types, Alastin’s Hydratint Pro not only protects the skin from dangerous UVA and UVB rays, but also provides light coverage while evening and brightening the complexion throughout wear. “My daily sunscreen is Alastin’s Hydratint Pro Mineral Spectrum SPF36,” says Dr. Allenby. “It doubles as my foundation, is lightweight and doesn’t feel greasy.”

alastin hydratint spf

Key Ingredients

Zinc oxide 3.4%, phytoene, phytofluene, ectoin

5 / 7

ISDIN Eryfotona Actinica ($46)

“DNA repair is a great addition to sunscreens,” says Dr. Waldorf. “One great example of this is ISDIN Eryfotona Actinica which contains phytolyase—a plant derived enzymethat can reduce and reverse the development of precancerous actinic keratoses.”


Key Ingredients

Zinc oxide, DNA Repairsomes, vitamin E

6 / 7

EltaMD UV Clear SPF 46 ($43)

If you are acne-prone, you may view SPF as an agitator to your breakouts or reactive skin, but certain SPF formulas can actually help reduce acne while they protect you from the sun, Dr. Waldorf explains. EltaMD’s UV Clear SPF 46 is one of Dr. Waldorf’s favorite multitasking products for acne-prone patients as the formula contains niacinamide to calm acne and rosacea.

elta md UV clear spf 46

Key Ingredients

Zinc oxide, niacinamide, lactic acid

Free From


7 / 7

Colorescience Sunforgettable Total Protection Face Shield ($49)

Another one of Dr. Waldorf’s favorites for infusing the skin with antioxidants and providing an opalescent glow on most skin types, Colorescience’s Sunforgettable Total Protection Face Shield improves skin quality while it works and adds radiance immediately.

colorescience sunforgettable total shielf

Key Ingredients

Zinc oxide, niacinamide, vitamin B3

Free From

Oil, chemical actives

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