Just a few days ago, the East Coast got hit hard with a massive blizzard that resulted in almost four feet of snow in some cities! Everyone knows the importance of being prepared, so we, responsibly, go rummaging around for shovels, rock salt, winter boots, and warm, wooly scarves and mittens…. but I bet even the most serious skincare junkie was making one massive mistake while shoveling out this weekend: skipping the sunblock. Though it might seem unseasonal, sunblock is necessary even in these blustery winter months- scratch that..especially in these blustery winter months.
Here are the top five myths about slathering on the winter sunblock:
Says who?! Certainly, this is the worst myth of them all! You MUST wear sunblock year round. Period. While the intensity of the UVB rays does decrease in the winter months, the sun doesn’t go into complete hibernation. Here’s my rule of thumb: If you can see outside without a flashlight, you need to be wearing sunblock. While it’s beautiful to watch the snow falling outside of your window, snow is white and shiny. When paired with the snow’s reflectiveness, winter sun can almost double a person’s UV exposure.
Unlike UVB rays which decrease in the winter months, UVA rays remain constant year-round, and they’re approximately 30-50 times more prevalent than UVB rays. UVB rays are more likely to leave you with a superficial burn, but UVA rays penetrate deep into the skin causing premature aging, sagging, and wrinkles! After a few hours in the winter sun, you might not have a sunburn…but you are unknowingly damaging your skin deep within the tissue. Over the past twenty years, studies show that UVA rays contribute to- and may even initiate- the development of skin cancers. (Are you convinced yet?)
When my 14-year-old headed out for a marathon sledding session with her neighborhood friends, I, of course, scolded her about the importance of sunblock before she left the house. Three and half hours later without a single reapplication, she came home with a cherry-red nose and pink cheeks that stayed rosy long after the chill had worn off. When out on the slopes, sledding, or spending any prolonged time outdoors, reapply every two hours.
While clouds may block the light rays from shining through, cloud cover offers no protection from the harmful rays of the sun. Even on the grayest winter day, approximately 80% of both UVA and UVB rays penetrate the clouds. What else to note: 100% of UVA rays penetrate glass. If you have a sunroof in your car, you’re literally baking your face while you drive. Keep a small bottle of sunblock in your center console or in your bag for quick reapplications. I love Revision Intellishade. A hint of color, a blend of 3 peptides, Coenzyme Q-10 and zinc and titanium dioxide make this the only facial sunscreen you need.
No one knows where this myth got started, but it’s blatantly false. The cold does not protect the skin from UV light. Without the warning signs of heat, chilly temperatures only increase your risk of serious damage. Since there’s no hot sun beating down to remind you to wear your sunblock, it’s easy to forget what’s really happening to your skin.
While frolicking in the snow, it is crucial to remember your sunscreen- particularly if you are skiing or snowboarding in high altitude areas. Your helmet will protect your ears and the top of your head, but don’t forget to apply at least an SPF 30 on the tip and underside of your nose, the back of your neck, and under your chin.
Cold, wintry days make it easy to forget sunscreen, but don’t make this irreversible mistake that can add decades to your face, neck, hands, and decolletage. To protect your skin during the winter months, use a broad spectrum sunscreen with at least an SPF of 15. Look for ingredients like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide which provide the best protection. Science. Truth. Results.