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Do I Need Sunscreen When It's Cloudy?

Posted by Dan Narsete on

“A cloudy day is no match for a sunny disposition.”

-William Arthur Ward 

We all know it’s a good thing to put on sunscreen when it’s sunny. That is a no-brainer, right? But what about when it’s one of those cloudy days? Do we really need to bother with putting on sunscreen? Today we are going to   look at the issue and provide some clarity on the topic.

For starters

When we consider our skin health, one of the most important factors at play are ultraviolet rays. When these rays are emitted from the sun, they can penetrate into our deeper layers of skin which can cause a lot of harm and accelerate the aging process. This is why sunscreen works so well--it blocks or absorbs sun rays before they do damage in deeper layers of our body.

The science

Generally speaking, clouds are mostly made up of frozen crystals of water (though they do include other chemicals and properties). While this may seem like this doesn’t matter, it’s important to know this in order to better understand how UV rays work. UV rays have short wavelengths and are not readily absorbed in water. As a result, these harmful rays pierce straight through clouds. Researchers estimate that 80% of UV rays go right through clouds. The other 20% gets reflected (depending on the size and composition of the cloud).

The two rays that get the most attention are UVA and UVB rays. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, UVA rays account for 95% of the sun exposure we get. This is a bad thing because UVA rays have a range of 315-400 nm, meaning they can penetrate deeper and cause more damage than their superficial cousin UVB rays (these rays only account for 5% of our sun exposure).

Bottom line

UV rays cause us to age. A lot. Many Dermatologists estimate 50-90% of aging is a direct result of sun exposure. That’s not a fun fact. Since UV rays pass through clouds, it’s important to wear sunscreen! Even on cloudy day. General recommendations are to use sunscreen with SPF 15+, but we’re going keep it real. Use 30+ if possible. You can thank us later…   ; )

To your skin health,


Team Reflect

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