Why Every Winter Skincare Regimen Needs Sunscreen
No matter your skin type, if you’re treating your sunscreen as a seasonal item, you could be putting your skin at risk for sun damage. Even when you can’t see or feel the sun’s rays, their UV light can still reach your skin and lead to signs of premature aging and increase your risk for melanoma and other types of skin cancer.
Here are a few surprising facts about UV rays in the winter and why your skin needs protection from them year-round.
UV Rays Can Penetrate Clouds
Don’t let cloudy, overcast days fool you. Your skin is still susceptible to UV damage on cloudy days, and some evidence suggests that the presence of clouds could enhance the effects of UV radiation on your skin (American Scientist). This could be due to clouds acting as reflectors, increasing your exposure.
The best way to avoid getting caught outside without sun protection is to make a great sunscreen like Jan Marini SPF 45 or PCA Skin Weightless Protection Broad Spectrum SPF 45 a part of your daily skincare routine. That way, no matter what the day brings, you can rest assured that your skin is protected from harmful UV light. Just remember to reapply sunscreen if you’re going to be outside for long periods of time, rain or shine.
Snow Doesn’t Save Your Skin from UV Rays
Just like cloud coverage, wintry wonderlands can be deceiving, at least when it comes to sun damage. Bright surfaces, including the snow, can reflect UV light and enhance its effects. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, snow can reflect up to 80 percent of UV rays, essentially doubling your skin’s exposure to them. As a result, many people who enjoy outdoor winter activities such as skiing, snowboarding and sledding are unknowingly putting their skin at risk by forgoing sunscreen on cold, snowy days.
Hidden Dangers in Your Cell Phone
Similarly, your cell phone, tablet and laptop can act as mirrors when used outdoors and increase the amount of UV radiation reaching your skin. While the research, which has been published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, emphasizes that radiation from your cell phone itself hasn’t been linked with skin cancer, its ability to reflect UV rays can pose a serious threat to your skin’s health.
If you need to use these devices outdoors, try to find a shady spot and wear a hat and sunglasses to help minimize damage. Using your phone under the shade of a hat can help prevent UV rays from reflecting off of it and onto your skin.
UV Light Gets Stronger at Higher Altitudes
You can’t escape the sun’s UV rays, no matter how high or far you climb. In fact, higher altitudes will put you that much closer to the sun and increase your risk of skin damage. For every 1,000 feet above sea level that you ascend, UV radiation increases by 4 to 5 percent (Skin Cancer Foundation). This means that even if you’re vacationing in the snowy mountains, you’ll still need to pack plenty of sunscreen and an SPF lip balm such as Coola Classic Liplux SPF30 Original.
The Bottom Line
Most of us think of sunscreen as a summertime item, but the truth is that everyone should be using it as part of their regular morning routine, no matter what type of skin you have. Forming this habit can have a significant impact on your skin’s health and appearance, and it really only takes an extra minute or two. In the long run, this extra 60 seconds each morning will pay off big time in the form of smooth, even-toned and healthy skin.
Dr. Leslie Baumann, M.D. and her team at Baumann Cosmetic Dermatology believe in proof, not promises. World-recognized for both cosmetic and general dermatology, our treatment strategies rely exclusively on evidence-based, scientifically verified products and procedures that promote skin health and a natural appearance. We combine effective medical procedures with individualized instruction on proper skincare, nutrition, supplementation and lifestyle in order to maximize the health of the skin and body as a whole while minimizing the effects of aging. For more, visit Dr. Baumann’s blog for daily updates Monday through Friday, or inquire about an appointment through Derm.net.