The snow has stopped falling – now it’s time to get out and play! You layer on your long johns, mittens, hat, snow pants, scarf, and ear warmers. But you might be forgetting one key form of protection: sunscreen.
Maybe you think that sunscreen is just for the beach, and you wouldn’t be alone – lots of people pack sunscreen away with their bathing suits for the winter. However even though you aren’t likely to get a sunburn, wearing sunscreen in winter is still a good idea. Here are three of the most compelling reasons why:
1. UVA Rays are the Same Strength All Year Round
While the sun might not feel as strong during the winter, you are still getting the same dose of UVA rays that you would at the beach during the summer. UVA rays have longer wavelengths than UVB rays and they penetrate deeper into the skin. Although UVA doesn’t cause sunburn it does cause premature aging and skin damage. And long-term overexposure can contribute to certain types of skin cancer.
Another factor: for most of us here in the northern hemisphere, UVB rays are not as strong during the winter. Which means no sunburn – i.e., no way for your body to warn you that you’ve had too much sun.
Prolonged exposure to the sun (any time of year) leads to skin damage. Keep this in mind, and remember to apply your sunscreen in winter.
2. Snow Reflects UV Rays
According to the American Melanoma Foundation, snow reflects up to 80 percent of the sun’s rays. (Sand only reflects about 17 percent.) So playing in the snow on a sunny day, while it’s a lot of fun, can result in a double-dose of UV radiation.
And if you’re a skier, sunscreen in winter is especially important. UV radiation increases 4 percent for every 1,000 foot increase. If you’re going to hit the slopes, definitely slap on some sunscreen. And as a bonus, our sport sunscreens are based in soothing butters and waxes, which help prevent windburn as well.
3. Use Up that Tube of Sunscreen
This isn’t THE reason to wear sunscreen in winter, but is still important. It’s recommended to toss open tubes of sunscreens (Badger’s included) after 12 months*. So why waste perfectly good sunscreen? Keep it out in plain sight, and remember to apply before heading outside.
Also remember that you’re covering much less skin with sunscreen in the winter, since you’re bundled up. So if you have half a tube of sunscreen, you probably have enough. If not, check out our sport sticks which are great for small-area protection. And don’t forget the ears!
*12 months applies to an already open tube. Badger sunscreens are good unopened for three years, with the expiration date appearing on the crimp of the tube. Minding the expiration date is especially important for chemical sunscreens, as the ingredients break down over time. Zinc oxide doesn’t break down, but it can become separated from the base ingredients which could compromise protection.
Do you wear sunscreen in winter? If so, what’s your favorite winter activity? Join the conversation in the comments below!