Articles - What? Sunscreen in the Winter!

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What? Sunscreen in the Winter!
"Snow... reflects 80% of UVrays..."

Travis James, DO
Travis James, DO

One of the wonderful things about the Inland Northwest is the plentiful outdoor activities regardless of the season. Whether it is a day at the lake or a day on the slopes there are so many things to do in our own backyard. One of the most common questions we get during this time of year is, "Do I still need to wear sunscreen?" The resounding answer is yes! Here’s why……

Don’t be fooled by the gray overcast skies during the winter. Nearly 80% of the UV rays can penetrate through the clouds causing increased risk of skin cancer and aging to our skin. Snow can also reflect up to 80% of the UV rays which is actually more than you get from the water.

As you enjoy the slopes you must also remember that the increased elevation means more intense UV radiation exposure. Good sunscreens, protective clothing and goggles can go a long way in protecting your skin while you’re out enjoying winter sports. A few of my favorite sunscreens are EltaMD UV Clear or Eryfotona Actinica by Isdin.

The sun isn’t the only thing to keep in mind this winter. Cold snowy weather and harsh wind can wear away sunscreens at a quicker rate than usual, making reapplication more important. The overcast clouds can trap in environmental pollutants leading to increased breakdown in the elasticity of our skin which results in accelerated aging. The use of a good antioxidant serum, like CE Ferrulic or SkinBetter Science Alto Defense Serum, can help combat these pollutants. Keeping our homes warm with decreased temperatures means our furnaces are running and creating drier air which can lead to dry skin, dry lips, and increased problems with eczema and other skin conditions. Moisturizing often with a good lotion or cream, like Cerave or Cetaphil Restoraderm, keeping showers warm, not hot and making sure to get lotion on within a minute or two of getting out can lock in some moisture and help winter related skin issues.

 by Travis James, D.O.
Board Certified Dermatologist
Advanced Dermatology & Skin Surgery