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Why You Need to Wear Sunscreen in Winter

Posted by Dan Narsete on

When the dog days of summer are but a faded memory, it’s easy to fall into lazy habits. After all, wintery weather has us dressing in layers with barely a hint of skin in sight. On cloudy, rainy, or snowy days, you may be tempted to skip the sunscreen, but that’s one step you shouldn’t overlook even in winter. Even if you’ll only be outside a few minutes per day, UV rays can still damage your skin, so here are some things to keep in mind. At least a few of them are sure to shock you.

Altitude Changes Everything

If you’re an avid skier, snowboarder, or just love playing in the snow with your kids, you may think a scarf and mittens are the only things you really need outdoors. Your face, though, will still be exposed, and most people don’t realize that snow reflects light just like water does. If you’ve ever floated around the pool and ended up with a nasty burn, the water was likely to blame. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, “Snow reflects up to 80 percent of the UV light from the sun, meaning that you are often hit by the same rays twice.” Couple that double dosing with the knowledge that “UV radiation exposure increases 4 to 5 percent with every 1,000 feet above sea level,” and the math reveals that your skin is at far greater risk for UV damage than it is when you’re visiting the beach.

Never Underestimate Cloudy Days

We’ve all been fooled into thinking that a cloudy day minimizes the likelihood of sun damage. Alas, that notion is also wrong. Even when the sun is hidden from view, its UV rays are far from absent. Eighty percent of those damaging rays still make it down to the ground. So, slather on that sunscreen and try to limit your outdoor exposure to early morning or late afternoon.

Wind Can Reduce Sun Protection

Have you ever noticed how your cheeks, nose, and chin look a bit more red after being outside on a windy day? Most people chalk it up to windburn, but there’s actually another cause. Wind tends to strip skin of moisture, and that includes sunscreen and makeup, too. When that hydration gets zapped, the outer layer of the skin, the stratum corneum, starts to slough off (i.e. flaking), and those discarded skin cells take the sunscreen with it. When the new skin below becomes exposed, it lacks natural sun protection as well as any SPF product that originally covered it. Ultimately, those red cheeks are damaged. Rosy doesn’t sound so rosy after all.

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With all the information available regarding protecting yourself and your loved ones from sun damage, there’s one other sobering fact to consider. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), New Hampshire, Vermont, and Delaware top the list with new cancer diagnoses. These states may not be known for their sunny locales, but that’s exactly why the risk of skin cancer is higher. Intermittent exposure still causes damage, so take precautions with clothing and sunscreen to protect yourself from becoming a statistic.

To your skin health,


Team Reflect

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