Sunscreen in the Winter?

When the Summer months fade into Fall then Winter, our skincare needs tend to change significantly. In the chillier months, we tend to need heavier moisturizing, hydration and protection. However, with this being said, we tend to forgo the sunscreen as most of us don’t feel it is necessary. Why is this? As the days grow shorter and colder, we think this way as we are in hibernation mode therefore spending minimal time outdoors. This concept however could not be further from the truth.

So what causes us to have an increased risk of sun damage during the Winter? First of all, it’s important to keep in mind that if there is any daylight at all, you are exposed to UV rays. Even on cloudy, rainy or snowy days 80% of the sun’s rays penetrate through the clouds. When there’s snow, the UV rays are refracted in many different directions therefore significantly increasing sun exposure.

How does this all work? There are two types of UV rays that affect the skin. UVA and UVB rays. UVB rays are what are considered the “burning” rays. These rays have a short wavelength, therefore only affecting the epidermis, or outer layers of the skin. While these particular rays are diminished in the Winter, we’re still at risk for burning therefore increasing our skin cancer risk.  UVA rays are considered the “aging” rays. These types of rays have a long wavelength. This means they can penetrate through glass, down to the dermis, or the deepest layers of our skin. UVA rays damage collagen and elastin production and damaging DNA. This in turn causes loss of elasticity, wrinkling, hyperpigmentation, and increased risk of developing skin cancer.

What can I do to protect myself? It’s really simple. Just like the great Baz Luhrmann said in his song, “If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it.” First of all, it does a world of good in protecting us from those UV rays. You do however have to apply and re-apply every couple of hours. Also, besides protecting our skin, sunscreen has tons of anti-aging properties. It works great as a makeup primer, it can slow down the aging process by 25%, and overall it gives a youthful, healthy glow. So just like Baz, my advice to you would be to wear sunscreen!

Lisa Kray

Advanced Practice Master Aesthetician