In summer it’s a no brainer; slip, slop, slap, and avoid going outside in the middle of the day. These are simple and proven ways to protect yourself from painful sunburn, skin cancer and premature ageing. We get it. It’s important.
But what about when the sun is not shining? What about an overcast winter’s morning?
Staying sun safe year-round and caring for your skin over the winter months is more important than you think. We generally ease up on sunscreen use during the winter, as the sun feels weaker and we are less likely to burn. However, the sun’s harmful UV rays are just as strong and damaging despite what your weather app says. Even when it’s overcast, up to 80% of the sun’s rays are still being absorbed by your skin. And the presence of snow can nearly double the amount of ultraviolet radiation that bombards your skin.
What exactly is UV radiation?
UV radiation is part of the natural energy produced by the sun. There are two types of UV light:
Ultraviolet A (UVA) has a longer wavelength, and is associated with skin aging.
Ultraviolet B (UVB) has a shorter wave length and is associated with skin burning.
While UVA and UVB rays differ in how they affect the skin, they both do harm. Unprotected exposure to UVA and UVB damages the DNA in skin cells, producing genetic defects, or mutations, that can lead to skin cancer (as well as premature aging.)
However, just one out of the two UV perpetrators, UVB, is actually lessened by clouds and winter. The other, UVA, is very much present year-round. This means that any day of the year— summer, winter, or otherwise — presents opportunities for skin aging UV damage.
UVA radiation reaches deeper into the skin and contributes to wrinkles and skin cancer risk. A key cause of pigmentation, dullness, wrinkles and loss of firmness, UVA radiation can penetrate glass, cloud and even clothing!
So, if there’s one season you want to work harder to prevent dry skin and wrinkles, it’s winter. If you are worried about sunscreen feeling greasy on application we have come a long way from the days of covering our noses in white zinc! Most skincare ranges now include sunscreen in their cosmetics and beauty products, such as moisturisers, primers, foundations, serums, and creams. You can sneak your sunscreen into the products you already wear every day and skip adding an extra step to your morning routine. Look for the highest possible SPF which is currently 50+ in Australia.
If you’re contemplating skipping sunscreen during the cooler months, consider this: going barefaced is the number one cause of premature ageing. Yes number one! Because, while burning UVB rays may be less aggressive during winter, photo-ageing UVA rays are undeterred by grey skies and lower temperature.
Every single day of the year, no matter what the weather is like, if you are outside for even 10 minutes you need to be applying SPF. Trust me your skin will thank you for it!