(NBC NEWS) -- Slathering on sunscreen is the gold standard for skin cancer prevention, and now research suggests it can also slow the aging process.
Australian researchers analyzed the skin of more than 900 people under age 56.
They found those who were told to use sunscreen every day for four years had a 24-perrcent reduction in skin aging compared to those who applied sunscreen at their own discretion.
Dermatologist Dr. Joseph Merola, who was not involved with the study, says broad spectrum sunscreen prevents aging by blocking the break down of collagen.
"Collagen of course being the main component in the skin that keeps it looking plump, healthy and youthful," Dr. Merola explains.
And using sunscreen for its anti-aging abilities, rather than some expensive beauty products, could be cost effective.
"We really don't have a lot of strong evidence in support of the use of those products even though they're quite popular," Dr. Merola says.