The Importance of Sun Protection Throughout the Winter Months
Though you may not be lying on the beach soaking in the sun, cold weather is no reason to forego the SPF. Contrary to what you may have always believed, your skin is just as vulnerable (if not more so!) to sun damage in the winter as it is in the sweltering heat.
So, before you step outside this winter, always make sure to put on sunscreen, and keep reading to learn more about why sunscreen is so important to use throughout the winter months.
10 Reasons to Use SPF In the Winter
Here are the main reasons why you should always wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 in the winter months.
Snow Intensifies the Sun’s Rays
The reflective quality of white snow reflects 80 to 90 percent of sunlight back into the atmosphere. So, while outside in winter, the snow almost doubles your exposure to UV rays.
And a blanket of snow isn’t the only reflective surface that increases your exposure to UV rays. Water, ice, smartphones, tablets, and even mirrored sunglasses can reflect UV light onto your skin and increase your risk of photoaging sun damage and skin cancer.
Harmful UV Rays Penetrate Winter Clouds
Though winter days tend to be greyer with cloud cover, up to 80 percent of UV rays can penetrate clouds. So even on the most overcast winter days, your skin can be exposed to harmful UV radiation that causes sun damage, wrinkles, skin cancer, and sunburns.
UV rays can even penetrate glass, so if you’re sitting by a window at home or in your car, you’ll still be exposed to sunlight.
The Ozone Layer Is at Its Thinnest in the Winter
The ozone layer shields the Earth by absorbing the sun’s UV rays. But this protective barrier is the thinnest in the winter. So even though there is less direct sunlight in winter, there is still a significant reflection of these powerful UV rays.
And while you may not get sunburned as easily in winter, you will still be exposed to the harmful UV rays that cause photoaging and skin cancer. So, make sure to wear sunscreen when going outside, especially between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm when the sun’s rays are strongest.
The Sun Is Strong Even When It’s Not Sunny Out
The sun’s UV rays are still able to reach Earth, even on cloudy, rainy, and snowy days. Just because you can’t see any sunlight, it doesn’t mean your skin is safe from UV exposure. So, don’t let the lack of sunlight trick you, and lather on the SPF daily.
Winter Sports Put You at Higher Risk of UV Exposure
The elevation that comes with winter sports, like skiing, sledding, and snowboarding, bring you closer to the sun and increase your UV exposure.
For every 1,000 feet above sea level, UV exposure increases by an estimated five percent. So, before hitting the slopes, it’s crucial that you apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen to any exposed skin—think ears, eyes, and neck—and an SPF lip balm for your lips. Reapply every two hours, and wear sunglasses to protect your eyes.
Winter Conditions Remove Sunscreen Faster
Snow and strong winds can quickly wear away sunscreen and reduce its effectiveness. So while out in the winter, you should reapply sunscreen every two hours and immediately after sweating.
You Can Still Get Skin Cancer in the Winter
The sun can still cause skin cancer, even in the winter. Though the days aren’t as sunny in winter as they are in summer, you’re still at risk of getting skin cancer from exposure to UV rays. So protect your skin from the sun year-round, not just in the summer.
Sun Damage Is Cumulative
Sun damage is cumulative over a lifetime—which means your skin damage from sun exposure adds up. Photoaging and skin cancer are correlated with cumulative UV exposure, and even low levels of sun exposure can add up over a lifetime.
So, if you don’t protect your skin from the sun in the winter months, the UV-related sun damage will accumulate over time, increasing your risk of photodamage, wrinkles, and skin cancer.
Sunscreen Has Anti-Aging Properties
UV rays damage the collagen and elastin structures in your skin, accelerating the formation of fine lines and wrinkles. And with the harsh winter weather and dry indoor heating, your skin is more prone to drying and wrinkles.
Freckles, age spots, spider veins, rough, leathery skin, blotchy complexions, and actinic keratosis can all be the result of sun exposure.
But broad-spectrum sunscreen will help block the photoaging UV rays. So even if you’re not worried about getting a sunburn in winter, it’s important to protect your skin from photoaging damage.
Sunscreen Protects Every Skin Type
Fair-skinned people are more at risk of developing skin cancer from sun exposure because they lack melanin in their skin—a natural protector from sun damage. But even people with darker skin tones are at risk of sun damage.
So no matter your skin type—even if you don’t burn easily—make sure to wear sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun’s damaging UV rays.
Best Products For UV-Protection
SkinCeuticals has a line of broad-spectrum sunscreens available in mineral and tinted sunscreens that are ideal for all skin types and use chemical-free UV filters. SkinCeuticals sunscreen also offers other anti-aging properties, like protection from ozone pollution.
SkinMedica Total Defense + Repair Rejuvenating Sunscreen protects the skin from UVA and UVB rays along with infrared light. It also has antioxidants to help repair damaged skin.
Colorescience Sunforgettable broad-spectrum mineral sunscreen is designed to protect your skin from UV rays between medical skincare treatments. It is also designed to prevent and treat specific skin conditions and is available in four different shades to provide sheer coverage for every skin tone.
Oxygenetix Foundation is ideal for all skin types but is designed to help heal sensitive post-procedure skin and skin with rosacea, eczema, and psoriasis. These innovative foundations are available with titanium dioxide for broad-spectrum SPF 30 UVA and UVB protection, so you can keep your skin looking flawless while protecting it from sun damage.
Sunscreen is the best anti-aging solution that will protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays year-round. So, even if it’s the middle of winter and you’re bundling up to go outside, don’t forget to apply sunscreen before heading out. It will protect you and your skin in rain, snow, or shine.
Dr. Caroline Tosoni pursued her Medical Degree at McMaster University and completed her post-graduate medical residency in Family Medicine through the University of Ottawa in 1998. Fluently bilingual in French and English, she opened her medical practice in Ottawa in July of 1998. Since 2000, Dr. Tosoni has focused her medical practice on Cosmetic Dermatology and has received extensive training and obtained multiple certifications in various medical cosmetic enhancement procedures such as Phlebology, Botox® Cosmetic, Dermal Fillers, SoftLift,™ BeautiPhication,™ Belkyra injections, CoolSculpting,™ Cosmetic Dermatology and Aesthetic Laser Medicine. Dr. Caroline Tosoni is also proficient in the treatment of Hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating) and Migraine Headaches with Botox® Therapeutic. In 2015, Dr. Tosoni’s practice officially received a Focused Practice in Dermatology designation by the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care and the Ontario Medical Association.