It is a common and understandable misconception that the dangers of the sun substantially minimize during the colder months of fall and winter. With more clothing coverage and minimal temperatures it is easy to misconstrue the dangers of the sun when we are immersed in cold weather. The sun is a mere illusion in the sky, and the cold takes over.
As the seasons fade into one another, one thing must stay constant: sun protection. Whether you are lying out on the beach, or frolicking in the fall leaves, you need to take proper precautions when exposed to the sun. Because your entire body is not fully exposed to harmful UV rays, it may not be necessary to lather your entire body in SPF 50 sunscreen every hour. However, there are certain things that you should do when being exposed to the sun in the winter. Although UVB radiation decreases in the winter, UVA radiation does not. UVB radiation is stronger than UVA radiation, and it mainly affects the outer layers of the skin, being the main contributor to sunburns, premature aging, and skin cancer. UVA radiation penetrates deep into the skin and is solely responsible for premature aging and skin cancer, so even a few minutes exposed can do marginal damage overtime. These rays are highly reflective, making them extremely dangerous when surrounded by snow, as well as more potent at higher altitudes. This describes why skiers can get such nasty sunburns while on the slopes.
There are precautions that you should be taking in the fall and winter that are different than what you would typically do in the summer.
Use the Appropriate SPF
Even if you are not applying sunscreen all over your entire body for maximum coverage, you still should apply SPF to any exposed areas. The important part of this is that you should be using an SPF of 30 or higher if you want to be protected. In addition to this level of SPF, the sunscreen should also contain zinc oxide or titanium oxide. This will ensure that your sunscreen is actually protecting you.
You’re clothing is your first line of defense against damaging rays from the sun. Wear a hat, scarf and warm clothing not only to protect you from the cold, but also to protect your skin from the sun.
Keep Skin Healthy
Make sure your skin is hydrated and healthy. When your skin is damaged, it is more susceptible to UV damage. By washing your skin in lukewarm water you are keeping it’s natural oils, which will keep skin more moisturized.
Avoid Tanning Beds
It is tempting to use tanning beds as the weather gets colder. Luckily, everyone is in the same boat and lacks the pigment that is oh so desired. Rather than using a tanning bed, you could use a tinted lotion to give you the glow that you prefer. Tanning beds are just as damaging as the real sun, and studies show that people who use tanning beds before the age of 35 increases their chances of skin cancer by 75 percent. It is our professional feeling that you should simply avoid tanning beds at all costs, at any time of the year…
Boost Internal Protection
By eating healthy foods, you are providing your skin with even more protection against winter conditions, further defending yourself from harmful UV rays.
Add some of the following foods to your diet, which have the ability to further aid and prevent skin damage caused by UV radiation:
- Citrus Fruits
- Green Tea
- Red Peppers
Wear Eye Protection
Sunglasses are always a good idea. Not only are they necessary to have to prevent a glare from the sun, but they also block 99-100 percent of the sun’s UV rays, which are still present in the colder months. Protect your eyes!
Protect your Lips
Use a lip balm with adequate SPF in order to protect your lips from UV rays. Not only are chapped lips uncomfortable, but also they are also prone to damage from the sun when unhealthy. Keep your lips hydrated and healthy.
By practicing good skincare behavior throughout these winter months, your skin will thank you for it later down the road.