We’ve all heard about wearing sunscreen in summer before, especially when you’re in a sunny vacation or beach day, but what about the wintertime? There are many things people don’t know about wearing sunscreen during the rest of the year, and these are the answers to any questions you may have about sunscreen in winter!
What does sunscreen do?
Hopefully, everyone should be aware that sunscreen is supposed to be a ‘layer’ of protection for our skin and is designed to stop our faces and bodies from burning. However, many people don’t know how it really works, and what exactly it does – why do we even need to protect ourselves from sunburn? Well, the truth is that there are reasons behind every question you may have, and it’s important to understand how sunscreen works in general before getting into wearing it in the winter.
Firstly, there are two different types of ultraviolet rays which are emitted by the Sun: UVA and UVB, and these can both cause potentially severe damage after long enough exposure of your skin to direct (and sometimes even indirect) sunlight. We’ll look deeper into this later, but the general rule in that UVA is a cause for premature aging, wrinkle, fine lines, and other similar things, as it penetrates deeper into the skin, whilst UVB is responsible for immediate sunburn, but this can still cause future problems.
There are many different effects to you and your skin that can come from unprotected sun exposure, or when you aren’t protected enough, and these should be enough to persuade you to start using a sunscreen daily if you don’t already:
- Premature aging
- Deeper wrinkles
- More presence of fine lines
- Age spots
- Melanoma – when your skin is sunburnt, it’s more severe than the red rash that meets the eye, and it can have devastating effects in the end. Your skin suffers from cell DNA damage when it’s burnt and, in the future, this can increase your chances of developing melanoma, the deadliest skin cancer, significantly.
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Do you need sunscreen in winter?
Most people are aware of the need for sunscreen in the summer, as they’ve most likely experienced sunburn before, and the weather is hotter, the Sun is stronger, and there are many things that make us more likely to use it. However, nowhere near as many people use sunscreen in the winter – why would you need to? So, it’s easy to see why there is some confusion, but fear not, as we’re about to answer your question!
The short answer to this is yes, you do, in fact, need to be wearing sunscreen all-year-round, whether it’s the heat of summer or the very coldest day in the winter.
Once you’ve seen why this is, it will make much more sense, and you’ll probably start wearing a sunscreen straight away!
While the winter Sun isn’t as strong as it is in the summer for most places, it’s still out. If you were to look outside in the daytime and you can see that it’s light outside, that light is coming from the Sun, and this is proof that the Sun is out, no matter what time of year. This means that the UV rays are still able to make it to your skin and cause damage, even if it’s not exactly warm outside, because the temperature doesn’t make any difference.
If there are clouds, people often assume that there’s no danger, as they’re still protected, but the light managed to make its way through those clouds, didn’t it? So can the ultraviolet rays. When the Sun is out in the day, it doesn’t matter whether it’s warm or cold, cloudy or clear, sunny or raining, you can still burn.
If you have a friend with much fairer skin, you may have seen them get burnt once or twice in the winter, and thought it was incredible, but it’s still possible, even on a chilly day. The thing is, sunburn is much more present in those with fairer skin, as you may have realised, so this is just visible proof that the Sun’s rays will still get you.
And, in case you were wondering, the same effects as those you can experience from Sun exposure in the summer, such as sunburn, premature aging, fine lines, wrinkles, and everything else, will still come from the Sun in the winter.
How do you use sunscreen in winter?
Now that we know that sunscreen is important, even in the winter, we are more likely to be keeping ourselves protected, but you may be wondering whether wearing sunscreen in the winter is any different to wearing it in the summer. Although the principal and the necessity are still the same, the conditions outside in the winter are much different to the summer, and there are different skin concerns which we often have at different times of the year, so here is how to use your sunscreen in the winter:
- Use a lower SPF: on days that are your typical winter day, when it’s not too warm and not too sunny, you can get away with wearing a lower SPF on your face and body, and something like SPF 30, or maybe even 15 is safe, as long as you’re remembering to apply it correctly, and regularly.
- Just use it on exposed areas: in the summer, especially if it’s hotter outside, you’re likely to be wearing just a pair of shorts and a t-shirt, or something similar, with much of your body exposed, which needs to be covered. However, it’s not the same in the winter, and we often wrap up very warm, covering everything we can, so there’s no need to apply sunscreen all over if your face is the only place that is actually exposed – just apply it here.
- Don’t be fooled: it can be easy to still assume that you’re going to be fine if you don’t bother with your sunscreen today, but this is a risk to your skin, and you’re better off avoiding this, as you could cause yourself some damage. Remember, the winter Sun is still strong.
In simpler terms, the short answer to this question is yes, you do need to wear a sunscreen in the winter, as the Sun’s UV rays can still penetrate your skin and cause damage, even if they’re not as strong. Wearing a suitable SPF ensures your comfort throughout the day and also prevents any problems in the future.