It’s tempting to make the most of any sunshine you can find in the chilly winter months, and like many, you might believe that sunscreen isn’t as important when the weather is cooler. In the winter, the UV rays which cause wrinkles, premature aging and skin damage are just as strong as during the warmer months. In this blogpost, we’ll explain why sunscreen is important especially in the winter.
CAN YOU GET SUNBURN FROM SNOW?
Yes, snow and ice can increase the effects of UV radiation by reflecting UV and UVB rays and intensifying their effects. Paired with the higher concentration of UV radiation at altitude, sun exposure in the snow can be as harmful as that you’d expect on a sunny summer’s day at the beach.
UV radiation is especially strong in the mountains, as its concentration is increased with altitude. The amount of UV rays that reach the earth's surface increases by up to 10-12% for every 1000 meter above sea level and the reflection from snow and ice intensifies the effects of UV radiation by as much as 90 percent. This includes both UVB rays, which cause sunburn; and UVA rays, which cause premature aging of the skin.
SHOULD YOU WEAR SUNSCREEN IN WINTER?
During the winter months, many active people love to spend time outdoors and make the most of winter sports like skiing, snowboarding and even mountaineering. Despite the freezing temperatures, sun protection is particularly important when engaging in these outdoor activities.
The solution of course is to use a quality, long-lasting sunscreen that protects from both UVA and UVB rays. As a reminder, the sun protection factor (SPF) listed on sunscreens only refers to UVB rays. To get full coverage from both, you’ll need to purchase a sunscreen that also blocks UVA. Read the label carefully to ensure that this is the case; sunscreens that are effective against both UVA and UVB will be listed as “broad spectrum” sunscreens.
HOW TO APPLY SUNSCREEN IN WINTER
When applying sunscreen, make sure you cover the underside of your chin, ears, and nose. And make sure you reapply frequently throughout the day to keep your skin happy, healthy, and free from UV damage this winter season.
Don’t forget the lips! The lips don’t produce melanin, and therefore aren’t able to protect themselves against harmful UV rays. We suggest choosing a UV blocking lip balm of at least SPF 30.
Finally, complete your sun protection with a pair of dark sunglasses to shield your eyes from the beaming winter sun.