It probably took no less than three layers to get out the door this morning. And I’m guessing that an SPF probably wasn’t one of them. Once the days start getting shorter and cooler, many of us tend to leave the sunscreen with the beach bag and forget about them until things start greening up again. UV damage is a year-round threat- making winter skin protection imperative.
You’re thinking: But I’m hardly outside during the winter. To which I say, every bit of exposure matters, even if it’s less than 10 minutes a day. There’s this thing called Incidental sun exposure—the kind experienced during a daily commute—that has a cumulative effect resulting in fine lines and sagging skin.
Recent research has begun to indicate that pigment cells can be stimulated not only by the sun’s UV rays but even by lower doses of ambient and infrared light, the sort emitted by your laptop screen or overhead lamps.
So there’s ample reason to apply a thick layer of broad-spectrum SPF in the morning (and reapply it at lunch), even If you’re holed up at home or the office all day. And it’s absolutely essential if you’re hitting the slopes or taking snowy walks during the weekends.
Tips for the Outdoor Enthusiast
The high altitude, thick snowpack, and bright sun skiers and snowboarders crave can put them at a higher risk of sun damage and, ultimately, skin cancer. UV exposure increases four to five percent with every 1,000 feet above sea level. That means that the UV radiation on a ski slope at an altitude of 9,000 to 10,000 feet can be 35 to 45 percent more intense.
Compounding that, snow can reflect as much as 80 percent of the sun’s UV light, which means that you’re essentially getting hit twice by the same rays. Not to mention, strong wind and whipping snow can wear away sunscreen.
A few simple precautions, though, can make all the difference when it comes to Winter Skin Protection.
• Just as you would in getting ready for a day at the beach in July, slather all exposed parts of your body with a thick layer of a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Hit your head, ears, neck, arms, and hands just in case it warms up and you shed your hat and coat later on.
• This goes for cloudy days, too. And don’t be stingy with it; use at least a teaspoon on your face. Winter can be especially harsh on the skin, so look for an SPF that doubles as a moisturizer. You’ll be all the more inclined to reach for it when your hands and face start to feel dry and scratchy.
• Keep a travel-size bottle of your sunscreen and a lip balm with an SPF in your coat pocket. That way, you’ll be able to reapply as often as you need to (every couple of hours; more often if you’re sweating a lot) without heading back to the lodge.
• These days, it’s harder to find sunglasses and goggles without UV protection, but double-check anyway. The eyelids and sensitive skin around the eyes are common sites for skin-induced aging and skin cancers.