Should You Wear Sunscreen in Winter? Yes!

A girl walks through a flurry of snow.

We tend to think of sunscreen as a summer thing. As temperatures heat up, those intense UV rays shower our sensitive skin and leave us vulnerable to sunburn, premature aging, and not cute redness. It’s easy to remember in the hot summer months to reach for that SPF. In the winter months, however, we’re more focused on bundling up, staying warm, and slathering on the best face creams for winter to keep our glow in check. But believe it or not, though, wearing sunscreen in winter is just as important as in the summer. There are a few specific reasons why.

Why You Should Wear Sunscreen in the Winter: UV Rays Are Present Year-Round

Why should you wear sunscreen in the winter? The basic answer is this: There are two types of ultraviolet rays that can wreak havoc on your skin: UVA and UVB.

  • UVA rays, also known as long-wave rays, are the ones that penetrate your skin the deepest, contributing to common signs of aging like wrinkles, fine lines, and uneven complexion. They can help you to achieve that golden brown tan, but they’re also the rays that contribute to common skin cancers.
  • UVB rays, also known as shortwave rays, are the ones that cause irritation and sunburns. They don’t penetrate as deeply as UVA rays, but they leave more of a visible mark. These rays are more prominent in the summer months, but they’re present year-round, too.

The reason you’re less prone to sunburn outside of summer is because UVB rays are less present; however, 95% of the solar rays that come into contact with your skin are actually UVA rays, and those are the ones that age your skin prematurely. Whether you’re in a winter flurry or soaking in the summer sun, these rays are in abundant supply all year long, and they’re actively penetrating your skin even when the sun isn’t bearing down on you. They can even penetrate your clothing, so you’re not protected just because you wear long sleeves and pants. That’s reason enough to keep an abundant supply of sunscreen in winter!

Sun Exposure Can Actually Be Worse During Winter

We think of the sun as being especially intense during summer, but winter can be much worse. That’s because the ozone layer—the natural shield in the atmosphere that absorbs solar radiation—is thinnest during the winter. In other words, the barrier that protects you from the worst solar rays is at its weakest. Consider also that we’re closer to the sun in the wintertime—at least, those of us who live above the equator. For the two weeks following the winter solstice, we’re as close to the sun as we’ll be all year. In summer, we’re the furthest away. So, even though you may be bundled up and focused on cold weather skincare, you should still be wearing sunscreen in the winter.

A woman walks on a snowy Bridge.

Snow Intensifies the Sun’s Rays

If you spend any time on the slopes, you probably already know how intense the sun’s reflection can be on the ice. Snow and ice are capable of reflecting up to 90% of the sun’s rays—and the majority are those harmful UVA rays! Those who enjoy winter sports in the mountains need to be especially diligent about wearing sunscreen in winter, as UV exposure increases by as much as 5% for every 1,000 feet above sea level. In other words, the winter ski slopes can be much more harmful to your skin than the summer beach season.

It’s Not a Bad Idea to Wear Sunscreen Indoors Either

One persistent myth is that UV rays can’t travel through windows. While it’s true that UVB rays are largely inhibited by glass and clouds, we’ve already established that UVBs are less of a concern for long-term skin health. Dangerous UVA rays can penetrate glass; about 50 to 60% of these rays travel right through our windows every day. So if you like to sit beside the window and watch the snowfall through winter, you should consider wearing sunscreen as part of your general morning skincare regimen—even if you’re not planning to go anywhere.

Always Wear Sunscreen When Outdoors

Now that you know the problem, the solution is simple: Always wear sunscreen when heading outdoors! It doesn’t matter if it’s summer, fall, spring, or winter. Protecting your skin every day with a high-SPF sunscreen can help you to look younger for much longer. You’ll be protecting your skin’s elasticity, preventing hyperpigmentation, and ensuring healthy cell turnover.

Choosing a Sunscreen for Winter

When choosing a sunscreen, the most important thing is to look for the words “broad spectrum.” Many cheap sunscreens and tanning lotions only protect from UVB exposure, but a broad-spectrum sunscreen provides coverage against both UVA and UVB rays. In addition, look for an SPF of 30 or higher to ensure ample protection. With an SPF 30 sunscreen, you can expect to be protected from 97% of UV rays.

Other Anti-Aging Tips

We’ve established that you should be wearing sunscreen in the winter, but what else can you do to keep premature aging at bay? Be mindful of the skincare products you use! You’ll never block out 100% of harmful UV rays, but you can help prevent and even reverse sun damage by applying the right skincare products. For example:

  • Lotion P50V 1970 is a powerful exfoliating and hydrating complex that helps to balance the skin’s natural pH level and improve cellular turnover. It fights fine lines, wrinkles, dark circles, and other signs of aging better than any other exfoliator available.
  • Creme Placenta is a nourishing facial moisturizer that hydrates the skin beneath the surface and promotes a healthy skin tone. Made with powerful botanical extracts, it helps the skin to maintain its natural elasticity.
  • Lait E.V. is a soothing facial cleanser made with a natural complex of botanical extracts and vitamins. It removes the skin impurities that can accelerate the signs of aging and promotes lasting hydration.

So should you wear sunscreen in winter? The answer is absolutely, yes. Maintaining healthy, youthful skin isn’t about winning the genetic lottery. It’s about being proactive and using the best face products to protect your delicate skin all winter long! So don’t skimp on sunscreen this winter and protect that glowing skin!