protect skin in winter

When you head outside for fun in the summertime, you rarely forget to lather you and your children up with sunscreen — head to toe. After all, you’re going to be outside under those strong, damaging rays, and you want to protect from skin cancer, aging, and painful burns. But how do you protect skin in winter? While you may get slightly less sun time, you’re still seeing the sun. And if you’re into winter sports, you’re getting even more face time with the sun than you may realize. Read on to learn how to protect skin in winter.

Know the Risks

Understanding the sun, and how exposure to it can affect you, is the first step in protecting your skin this winter. Ultraviolet radiation from the sun is the number-one cause of skin cancer, and that risk is the same all year long. The sun may show itself for fewer hours each day during the winter months, but the cancer-causing UVA rays are still there. And cumulative sun exposure causes basal cell and squamous cell skin cancer. Plus, severe sunburns can raise the risk for developing melanoma.

And did you know that if you’re into winter sports, you’re at an even increased risk for overexposure to ultraviolet radiation? Higher mountain altitudes mean higher UV radiation exposure since that exposure increases 4 to 5 percent with each 1,000 feet above sea level. Combine that with the UV rays reflected by the snow (essentially meaning you’re being hit twice by the same UV rays), and you’re at a much higher risk for sun damage each time you hit the slopes.

What to Do – How to Protect Skin in Winter

So you just need to slather on some sunscreen quickly, and then answer the call of the mountain, right?

Not so fast.

Just like the added complications of altitude and snow reflection, sunscreen needs to be handled slightly differently to protect skin in winter. It’s important to know that the harsh conditions of winter can make your sunscreen less effective. Heavy winds and snow can wear away the sunscreen you’re counting on to protect you. Be extra careful in your application and reapplication of sunscreen with these tips:

  • Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
  • Apply 30 minutes before you hit the slopes (It will take that long just to find a parking spot, so lather up in the car!)
  • Use at least a teaspoon on your face. Good rule of thumb: If you aren’t sure if you’ve used enough, use some more.
  • Focus especially on the oft-forgotten areas, like your lips (Use a lip balm with SPF 30), the delicate skin around your eyes, your ears, neck, underside of your chin, and backs of your hands.
  • Reapply every two hours.
  • Keep your lip balm with you, and use a lip therapy after sun exposure.

Don’t take a false sense of security and skip sunscreen on cloudy days. Damaging UV rays can penetrate even the heaviest of clouds.

Other Ways to Protect Your Skin in Winter

While sunscreen, applied correctly, is an absolute must in the wintertime, you should also take a few more measures to protect your skin in the winter. Wear a hat, not just for warmth, but to protect your scalp from the damaging sun rays. If you’re skiing or snowboarding, wear a ski mask (but still apply sunscreen underneath the mask; you never know if you’ll want to take it off). Wrap a scarf around your face when heading outdoors to protect your skin from both the wind and sun. Don’t forget sunglasses that provide UV protection, especially if you’re in a snowy area.

Enjoying the sun in all climates and seasons is what we do best at Deter Outdoor Skin Protection. Stock up on the lip balms, sunscreens, and after-sun lotions you’ll need to keep your skin protected this winter.