By Mark DavisWhen it comes to keeping your skin clear and looking younger, there’s little doubt that most of us have a little sunscreen in our hair and on our face.
But a new study suggests that some of us also have a tendency to use sunscreen too frequently.
In fact, researchers at the University of Southern California and the University at Buffalo found that people who use sunscreen more than two or three times a day are more likely to suffer skin damage and even die.
It turns out that some people are more susceptible to sunburn than others.
People who use more than half a dozen times a week on average have more skin damage than those who only use one or two times a month.
The researchers also found that older adults who use the most sunscreens are more prone to skin damage.
“It is important to keep in mind that people are using sunscreen in very different ways, and there’s no way to predict who is going to get skin damage or who is not,” said Dr. Rolf Schaeffer, lead author of the study and a professor of dermatology and immunology at the USC/Buffalo Medical School.
“We want to understand the mechanisms that cause people to use so much sunscreen, and why that is so common,” he said.
Schaeffer and his team looked at data from a nationally representative sample of more than 6,500 adults who completed the Health Professionals Follow-up Study.
They compared those who used sunscreen more or less daily with those who didn’t, to see whether sunscreen use was linked to skin health problems.
“This was a large population, with a lot of different demographic characteristics and exposure to UV light,” Schaefer said.
“People were using sunscreen more often than they would have been if they had not used sunscreen.
We were also able to get a lot more information from this group of people than from the other groups,” he added.
The researchers found that those who had used sunscreen less frequently were more likely than those using sunscreen daily to have lower levels of ultraviolet B light exposure, a key component of skin cancer.
People who used more than four times a year also were more prone than those to use the least amount of sunscreen.
And those who were exposed to UVB light at least twice a week were more than twice as likely to develop skin damage, the researchers said.
It’s not just about how often people use sunscreen.
Researchers found that even when people were exposed only to UVA light, they were more susceptible than people who were more exposed to light from ultraviolet B.
“That was an unexpected finding because we didn’t expect to see this,” Schuemers said.
The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE.