Most people find applying sunscreen, and then reapplying it throughout the day, quite a chore, meaning that they’re more than happy when winter rolls around and they can put their bottles of SPF away for the year. If you can relate to this, you’ll need to read on – forgoing your sunscreen in the winter could leave you dealing with a number of skin concerns.
UVA vs. UVB Rays
While it’s true that UVB levels decrease during the colder and darker months, UVA rays stick around, and these are the ones that accelerate the skin aging process. Even the very best wrinkle cream won’t be able to save you from the wrinkles, sagging skin, and dark spots that UVA rays cause.
The only way to prevent UVA rays from damaging your skin year-round is with the use of a sunscreen.
UV Exposure Doubles Around Snow and Ice
Is snow and ice a common occurrence each winter where you live? If so, sunscreen becomes even more important. Many don’t realize that snow and ice almost doubles a person’s UV exposure. Even worse, those UVB rays that you thought you didn’t need to worry about in the winter become more problematic in these conditions.
It goes without saying that if you plan on hitting the slopes this season, sunscreen is a must. Not only is the snow an issue, but the atmosphere is thinner at higher altitudes, which therefore increases your UV exposure.
However, even if you intend on staying tucked up and cozy indoors, you’re still not safe. UV rays can penetrate through glass. You may have been relatively safe indoors on a dark and cloudy day, but add snow and ice into the mix and each time you’re near a window, your skin will be experiencing UV damage.
Reapplying Sunscreen in the Winter
It’s easy to remember to regularly reapply sunscreen in the summer, especially if you tend to sweat quite heavily. However, it’s just as important to do this in the winter too.
You may not be sweating quite as much, but the strong winds that your skin is exposed to strip the outer layer of cells from your skin, along with the sunscreen that you’ve applied onto them. Not only does this mean that your skin is left without protection, but it becomes even more vulnerable since its natural protective barrier is now compromised.
For this reason, you may find that you actually need to reapply your sunscreen even more frequently in the winter than you do in the summer, particularly if you’re often exposed to biting winds.
Choosing a Winter Sunscreen
Wondering if you can use your summertime sunscreen in the winter too? The answer is yes, so long as it offers an SPF of 30 or higher.
However, many prefer to switch sunscreen formulas once the temperature drops. Since the skin produces extra sebum during the warmer months, most tend to favor lightweight sunscreen formulas that provide adequate protection without leaving the skin greasy or heavy. However, in the winter months when the skin is much drier, a thicker and richer sunscreen can be beneficial, as this will double up as an extra moisturizer too.
Additional Wintertime Sun Protection Measures
Unfortunately, sunscreen on its own is usually not enough to give your skin all of the UV protection it needs. If you really want to keep aging, as well as skin cancer, at bay, get into the habit of following additional sun protection measures too.
Keep your skin covered with UV-protective clothing, and invest in UV-blocking sunglasses to keep your eye area safe. Hats are great for protecting the head and ears, while an SPF lip balm will help you to maintain a perfect pout.
Nobody wants to be dealing with sun-damaged skin. This makes it absolutely vital to commit to wearing sunscreen throughout the year, even in the darkest depths of the winter months. You’ll be protecting your skin from wrinkles, discoloration, and, most importantly, skin cancer, making a winter sunscreen well worth the effort.