Many people think that sunscreen is not necessary in the winter as you are not outside as often spending time in the sun. They think that the sun feels weaker and that they are less likely to burn. After all, how much damage can you do when you’re already bundled up from head to toe? But if you follow that logic, sun damage will eventually take its toll on your skin. You need to wear sunscreen in the winter, no matter how overcast or cold it may be.
There are two types of ultraviolet (UV) light – UVA and UVB. Only one of the two is actually lessened by clouds and winter. The sun’s ‘long’ ultraviolet A (UVA) make up 95% of the rays that reach the earth’s surface. These rays can penetrate the skin much deeper than UVB rays and are responsible for premature aging, brown ‘age’ spots and wrinkles. These rays can initiate skin cancers and are strong enough to penetrate glass. The UVA rays are just as present in cold and cloudy conditions – even in the shade and indoors.
The other type of light, UVB, are considered short wave rays and don’t penetrate the skin as deeply. UVB rays are the most intense from spring to fall and are responsible for sunburns and redness. These rays tend to dwindle over winter but can still be reflected off of snow and ice and play a role in sunburns on the slopes.
Average Americans spend 55 minutes per day behind the wheel. Research has shown that because Americans sit on the left hand side of the car, skin cancers are more common on the left side of the body due to sun exposure coming through the windows. Skin damage caused by UV exposure increases over time. It’ a gradual process but as you are exposed to more radiation with more frequency, the stronger the radiation and damage will be.
To defend yourself against the UVA rays, apply sunscreen all year round, every day. It is recommend that you use a sunscreen with SPF of at least 30. If you’re planning a ski holiday, an SPF of 50 would be better. Whichever sunscreen you opt for, it’s important to re-apply it every 2 hours.
As much as you try to protect yourself from the sun’s powerful rays, damage from the sun is sometimes unavoidable. There are procedures that will help minimize brown spots. Microneedling is one of the most vital ways to improve the look of skin. By stimulating collagen growth through microneedling, you can reverse sun damage and discoloration, including the hyperpigmentation that comes with melasma.