Do I need sunscreen in WINTER?

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Waking up with a layer of snow on the ground,winter has finally arrived in the heart of Canada! As the day grows shorter and the sun slants ever more each day, you may think it’s finally time to put your sunscreen back into the cupboard, well, think again.

Winter’s short day time and low temperature are extremely deceptive. It feels like common sense to assume that you will not need protection from the sun in the coldest time of the year, but there are some interesting facts about UV radiation and winter that may change your mind.

Your skin’s melanin concentration is low in Winter

When exposed to UV, our skin produces melanin to protect itself from sun damage. This results in skin’s summer tan colour. As the seasons change, our skin receives less and less UV radiation, causing the concentration of melanin to decrease, as we become paler, our skin also becomes more sensitive to sunlight.

Snow and ice reflect up to 80% of UV rays

It is as easy to get sunburned from the reflected UV from snow and ice as it is on a summer beach. You know you should wear sunglasses in winter to protect your eyes, the same rule applies for your skin. Light bouncing off snow and ice doubles your sun exposure, the closer you are to the ground, the stronger the effect.

UV increases with altitude

Skiing is arguably the best thing about winter. Getting active is good for your health and a lot of fun to do, but going up the mountain also means exposure to increased strength of UV radiation. UV increases 4-5% for every 1000 feet gain of altitude, plus the reflective effect of snow and ice, winter activities and sun protection must go hand in hand.

Ozone layer is thinner in Winter

Without the protection of the Ozone layer we will all be toasted by our life giving sun. It is Earth’s sunscreen that filters out the harmful UV rays. In the Northern Hemisphere, the Ozone level is at the lowest from December to March.

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So, if you will be in outdoor for a reasonable amount of time, don’t forget to put on your sunscreen even though it’s freezing. Here are a few more tips about sunscreen application:

  1. We do not recommend chemical based sunscreens (for obvious reasons). We would recommend natural mineral sunscreens such as our lovely Sunblocz since it is Zinc Oxide based, which means it starts to work the minute you put it on.  

  2. Your lips don’t produce melanin AT ALL, so be sure to put some sunscreen on them. Other spots that you may easily miss are your ears.

  3. Wear a hat and a scarf to protect your scalp and neck from UV exposure. Statistics show melanomas of scalp and neck make up 6% of all melanomas, but 10% of all melanoma deaths.

  4. Some sunscreens expire, check the date before you apply.

  5. Traditional glass cannot filter away UV. While it blocks UVB, which is what gives you sunburn but also help you produce Vitamin D, 50-60% of UVA, which causes more serious long term damage, still goes through glass. So you will need sun protection if you spend a good amount of time by a sunny window.

 

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Read more about winter sun protection at:

Reneerouleau, “Chemical Vs. Physical Sunscreens: Pros And Cons”, Available at http://blog.reneerouleau.com/chemical-vs-physical-sunscreens-pros-cons/, Accessed Nov 15, 2016.

Greatist, “Should I Wear Sunscreen in Winter”, Available at http://greatist.com/health/should-i-wear-sunscreen-winter, Accessed Nov 15, 2016.

Health essentials, “Why You Should Wear Sunscreen in Winter, Available at https://www.healthyessentials.com/beauty-solutions/why-wear-sunscreen-in-winter, Accessed Nov 15, 2016.

Goddess Garden, “Five Reasons to Wear Sunscreen in the Winter”, Available at https://www.goddessgarden.com/blog/five-reasons-to-wear-sunscreen-in-the-winter/, Accessed Nov 15, 2016.

Healthista, “Should I Wear Sunscreen in Winter”, Available at http://www.healthista.com/should-i-wear-sunscreen-in-winter/, Accessed Nov 15, 2016.

Birch Box, “5 Scary Stats That Will Make You Wear SPF in the Winter”, Available at https://www.birchbox.com/magazine/article/5-scary-stats-that-will-make-you-wear-spf-in-the-winter, Accessed Nov 15, 2016.

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