If you’ve put away your sun protection products until warm weather hits again, you may be surprised to learn that sunscreen in the winter is a must. So now is the perfect time to remind everyone why sunscreen, even in the coldest months of the year, is essential.
It’s important to note that there are two types of UV rays that can damage the skin: UVA and UVB. While UVB rays are the ones that are most prevalent during those long, summer days and can cause the skin to burn, UVA rays are longer, more penetrating and exist year-round. Day in, day out, regardless of clouds or windows, UVA rays are the ones that cause the skin to age prematurely.
Applying sunscreen in winter helps to minimize the appearance of wrinkles, age spots and sagging skin. Sun exposure leads to skin damage, which is due to a breakdown of the collagen and elastin in your skin, which support the skin’s structure, keeping it looking plump, smooth and tight. As an anti-aging prevention, you’d be hard-pressed to find a dermatologist who wouldn’t put sunscreen as #1 on their list.
Want to up your sunscreen game? Boost its protection by adding an antioxidant like Apothekari Bespoke Vitamin C serum. Antioxidants protect skin differently than sunscreens can, by helping to minimize skin damage caused by exposure to free radicals that are generated by UV rays, pollution and other external factors.
Snow and Ice Intensify UV Rays
Don’t be fooled by cold weather! Snow and ice reflect up to 80 percent of the sun’s UV rays. Cold temperatures and windburn can also contribute to sun damage by leaving your skin dry and thus more vulnerable to UV rays. For those who hit the slopes, UV-radiation exposure increases about 5 percent with every 1,000 feet above sea level. Plus, here’s a little known fact: the Earth is actually closer to the sun in the dead of winter than in the middle of summer!
Rising Melanoma Rates
Despite efforts and campaigns by organizations such as the American Academy of Dermatology and the Skin Cancer Foundation, fewer than 15% of men and 30% of women used sunscreen regularly. Rates for sunscreen use in winter are likely even lower.
Cases of melanoma continue to increase by 2% year over year. And although melanoma only accounts for 1% of all skin cancer cases in the US, it is the cause of the majority of skin cancer deaths. Even short durations of UV-light exposure are sufficient to increase CMM (cutaneous malignant melanoma) risk substantially, as suggested by this 1996 study.
Perhaps the most surprising and convincing reason for using sunscreen in the winter is that the states with the most cases of melanoma in 2017, per 100,000 people, were Vermont, Utah and New Hampshire, beating out the traditionally warmer states such as Hawaii, Florida and Arizona.
So, what’s the good news? According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, wearing a broad spectrum sunscreen daily can slow skin aging process by 24% and regular daily use of an SPF 15 or higher sunscreen reduces the risk of developing melanoma by 50%.
Have we convinced you yet?