When it comes to the warmer months, we take our time incorporating an additional step into our daily routine by applying a liberal amount of SPF sunscreen. However, the more that we neglect to protect our skin in the colder months, the more damage we may be causing our skin, which raises the question: How important is sunscreen all year round?
Contrary to popular belief, UV exposure in the cooler months can still cause sun damage even if we don’t actually feel it. Even if the sun is well hidden behind a sky full of clouds, roughly 80% of UV rays still permeate through, putting you at risk as if there were not a cloud in the sky.
Sunscreen can be related to a screen door: It blocks out most of the light, but still some rays peak through. Of course, we are expected to cover up more areas of our skin in colder months, so not much of our skin's surface is necessarily exposed, but keep in mind that those harmful UV rays can penetrate through some fabrics. While it’s important to liberally hit all the well-exposed areas such as the face, neck, ears, chest and hands, we should be conscious about protecting our skin, and that means everywhere.
The importance of sunscreen is rarely a topic of conversation in the fall and winter months but that doesn’t make it any less important. Of course, we do not need to lather thick layers of coconut scented sunscreen on our bodies like we do in the summertime, but a lightweight SPF will do just the trick. It’s also important to keep in mind that finding a product that's rich in moisture will help keep your skin hydrated through the cold, dry months. Overexposure to the sun with no SPF use could potentially lead to:
- Sun spots
- Telangiectasias (broken blood vessels)
- Sunburn or sun poisoning
- Potential scarring
- Skin Cancer
To get the most out of your sunscreen, make sure that you’re using an SPF that is strong enough to protect you over a certain period of time. It’s best to apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before stepping outdoors.
Other than regularly using SPF, there are other precautionary measures you can take to help protect your skin from harmful UV rays. Staying out of direct sunlight between the hours of 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM is beneficial as the sun tends to be the strongest within that time frame. If you’re taking antibiotics, birth control or any other hormonal medication, your skin may be more sensitive to the sun. Upping your SPF strength or skipping a few beach days until your done with your medication will be beneficial to you in the long run.
Skincare conversations tend to fall short on the importance of sunscreen year round which is why we try to educate our patients at BeautyFix on the importance of year-round SPF use and the harmful effects of UV rays, not just in the summer months.