Here’s why you need a sunscreen to protect your skin in winter as well

You know how important it is to protect your skin from the sun in the summer, right? You wouldn’t dream of going to the beach or the pool without sunscreen. But what about in the winter? Do you think you can skip the sunscreen when it’s cold and cloudy outside? Think again! The sun can still damage your skin in the winter, even if you don’t feel its heat. That’s because the sun’s UV rays are not affected by the temperature or the season. They are only affected by the angle of the earth, which changes throughout the year. While it’s true that the winter months bring lower levels of Ultraviolet (UV) rays due to the earth’s tilt away from the sun, here’s a surprising twist. Temperature and UV levels have a less direct connection than you might assume.

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Don’t be fooled by the winter chill. Your skin needs sunscreen all year round to prevent sunburn, wrinkles, and skin cancer. Here are some facts that will make you rethink your winter skincare routine.

The sun plays a significant role in causing visible skin changes commonly linked to ageing. Irrespective of the season, extended or intense sun exposure can accelerate skin age. Therefore, the simplest and most effective approach to counter this is by protecting your skin from those invisible UV radiation, even during the winter months.

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These radiations permeate through, and harm your skin cells. According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), a year-round commitment to safeguarding your skin is important. It proposes wearing sunscreen and curbing direct sun exposure during peak daylight hours, which stretch from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  When the clouds provide some cover, UV levels drop by only about 50 percent%. So, on overcast days, ensure you’re coated in sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, especially on exposed areas like your face and ears. Alongside, if you seek additional protection, consider donning a winter hat or earmuffs to shield these delicate zones from the potentially damaging embrace of UV rays.

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Sun protection is not about the temperature. It’s about the persistent presence of UV rays that can breach clouds and wreak havoc on your skin year-round, says dermatologist Dr Dinyar Workingboxwalla, skin guru and co-founder Beauty by BiE. “The sun might not seem scorching in the winter, but all it is doing is concealing its detrimental effects well. For complete skin protection in winter, it is imperative to note that sunscreen is an all-season companion,” he says.

Dr Workingboxwalla recommends SPF 30 PA+++ or higher with broad-spectrum protection, safeguarding your skin whether indoors or outdoors. “Opt for hydrating, lotion-like formulas that combat dry winter skin. By making sunscreen a daily ritual, you can preserve your youthful appearance for years, regardless of the weather,” he suggests.

Here are 5 compelling reasons to prioritise sunscreen for winter skin health:

Beware of UV radiation: Even during the winter months, harmful UV radiation from the sun reaches the Earth’s surface. While UVB rays, responsible for sunburn, decrease in intensity, UVA rays, which contribute to premature aging and skin cancer, remain relatively constant. Prolonged UVA exposure can lead to skin damage and increase the risk of skin cancer.

Don’t let snow catch your skin off guard: Snow can reflect up to 80 percent of UV radiation, intensifying exposure. A holiday in the snow can turn into a skin health nightmare without proper care. Skiers and winter sports enthusiasts, in particular, are at risk of sunburn and skin damage due to this reflection. Additionally, high-altitude areas have reduced atmospheric filtration, allowing more UV radiation to reach the skin.

Skin damage and ageing: UVA rays penetrate the skin deeply and cause collagen and elastin breakdown. This leads to premature ageing with tell-tale signs like fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging skin becoming more apparent. By applying sunscreen daily, you protect your skin from these ageing effects.

Prevention from skin cancer: Prolonged or cumulative exposure to UV radiation is a significant risk factor for skin cancer, including melanoma. Applying sunscreen consistently reduces this risk, even during winter when sun exposure might be less apparent.

Keep harsh winter conditions at bay: Cold weather can make your skin more vulnerable. Harsh winter conditions, such as cold wind and low humidity, can lead to skin dryness and sensitivity. Sunscreen acts as a protective barrier, preventing these elements from exacerbating skin issues.

Adopt sunscreen routine year round: Using sunscreen year-round helps maintain a healthy skincare routine. It establishes a habit of sun protection that reduces cumulative UV damage over time, preserving the overall health and appearance of your skin.

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