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Why should you be using SPF in winter? 🥶

by Jade Newton |

Why should you continue wearing SPF during the winter?

We all know the rules: Wear sun cream in the summer to avoid burning. Moisturise more regularly in the winter to prevent dry skin. But how many of us continue with our SPF use as soon as the days get shorter and temperatures drop? Although it’s normal to put our sun cream at the back of the bathroom cabinet after September and leave it for the following April, is this the best thing for our skin?

Isn’t SPF just for sun and summer? 

Although UVB (the burning and tanning ray) is much more powerful during the summer months, that doesn’t mean that as soon as it cools you don’t need to apply SPF daily. Indeed, UVA is present year-round and is responsible for skin ageing. Therefore without your daily sun protection from September through March, you could be leaving yourself unprotected from UV radiation and open the signs of ageing for at least half the year! What’s more, although more time is spent indoors during the winter months, many people don’t realise that UVA can travel through glass. Therefore, even when sitting near a window, this offers the possibility of UV radiation impacting your skin’s appearance. 

“Sunscreen should be worn every day you plan on spending any time outdoors, all year round,” explains Brian Kopitzki, D.O., a dermatologist at Beaumont Hospital. “Temperature should not be a factor in choosing if you use sunscreen or not.”

Why should you use it in winter? 

Although not visible, UV radiation is around every day, regardless of temperature, time of year, or cloud cover, with UVA staying at a very similar strength year-round. “While there are less direct UV rays in the winter, there is a significant reflection of these rays which can still easily cause sunburn. Even if you don’t get burned, the UV rays are still at work causing wrinkles and ageing the skin,” adds Dr. Kopitzki. Applying sun cream is also even more important for those who use peels, retinol, and exfoliants, to protect skin from environmental stressors and UV and prevent skin from becoming sensitive, irritated, or overexposed.

What’s more, did you know that windburn and sunburn also work together in discomfort-causing chaos? Although more of a problem when on snowy holidays, this is still something that can also affect you at home. Colder temperatures and strong winds can leave skin dry and irritated, leaving UV rays more likely to cause further discomfort. Applying a facial sun cream daily can act not only as a protector against UV rays but also as a barrier on the skin, combatting harsh winds, cold temperatures, and daily pollution for the best condition possible. 

Winter sun 

The use of sun cream is also super important if you are a snow-sport enthusiast, to keep skin protected from UV. Did you know that up to 85% of UV rays can be reflected by snow? This ultimately could be argued to almost double your UV exposure. This, alongside the fact that UV radiation intensity increases by 10-12% for every 1000 metres you climb in altitude, means that SPF is imperative for winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding. For this type of adventure, it’s also best to use water-resistant sun protection. This ensures that even if you fall over, or get a face full of snow, your sun cream won’t be affected!

Plus, don’t forget about your lips! They are also at risk of being sunburnt and becoming chapped, sore, and dry. Make sure to apply lip balms with a high SPF to keep them protected.

 Is it enough to use SPF that is in skincare? 

Although it’s great that many moisturisers and cosmetics now contain SPF in their formulas, the reality is that many people do not apply enough of the cosmetics to achieve the SPF rating on the bottle. According to the NHS, you should apply roughly a teaspoon (6ml) of sun protection to your face and neck to gain the protection cited on the bottle. They also recommend reapplying SPF every two hours. With this in mind, this would mean that the application of moisturiser or foundation to match this would be incredibly thick and uncomfortable. Therefore, layering a separate SPF over moisturiser, or under your makeup can be a much more effective means of protecting yourself year-round. 

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