It would come as a surprise, but our skin is actually more susceptible to premature aging and skin cancer during winter than in summer months.
Winter is closing in and in some parts of the country you may already be missing the sunshine. The days are shorter so you wouldn't let go of a moment to bask in the soft winter sun. Sounds familiar?
As you put on your winter jacket, don't forget to dab on that sunscreen you bought for the summer sun.
Yes, you need sunscreens in winter.
The sun is our friend and foe every season. Its UV rays are tricky to understand and have lasting harmful effects on our skin. A common myth is that the sun's rays aren't strong enough during winters, which leads most of us to stash away our sunscreens. Little do we realize that sunscreens are our best winter skin care product. There are several facts about the winter's sunshine we should know before deciding to set aside the sunscreen.
- UVA and UVB Rays: UVB rays, which are the primary cause of tan and skin burns, are weak in winters. However, UVA rays are just as strong as they are in other seasons. UVA rays are researched to cause skin cancer and photo aging - the premature aging of skin due to overexposure to the sun. UVA rays are powerful and can penetrate through the cloudy skies, fog and glass. So, if you think you don't need sunscreen just because you don't see enough sunlight, might want to think again.
- Weak Ozone Layer: The ozone layer is the Earth's shield against harmful sun rays, protecting us from UV radiations. But it is at its weakest during the winter months. The Northern Hemisphere experiences the lowest ozone levels between December and March. You may not experience a sunburn because the UVB rays are at bay, but you have to be prepared to battle the UVA radiation.
- Dry Skin: Skin health is challenging in winter months. The outdoor wind and chill, plus indoor heating absorb all the moisture and essential oils from our skin, which is why it's common to feel dry and itchy. A parched skin is more vulnerable to the harmful effects of UVA rays and is prone to redness, sores, wrinkles, and cracks. You might even experience a stinging sensation. The Skin Cancer Foundation states that strong winds in winters wear off sunscreen faster than sweat does in summer seasons, and recommends applying sunscreen generously every 2 - 3 hours.
- Winters Can Be Harsher Than Summers: It would come as a surprise, but our skin is more susceptible to premature aging and skin cancer in winters than in summers. Sunscreens have anti-aging properties, and a broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher will moisturize and protect your skin. Sweating in summers prevents your skin from extreme dryness, which doesn't happen in cold weather. While sand reflects about 15% of UVA radiation, fresh snow reflects almost 80%, greatly intensifying our exposure.
Best practice is don't let up on your skin protection game during the winter 'off season' months. That means protect your skin year round with sunscreen and sun protection clothing, and pamper it as best you can by eating well, getting sleep and drinking lots of water. When March comes around you won't need to go into correction mode and your pocketbook will thank you!
Remember, it's easier to protect your skin than correct it.