You know when it’s summer and the sun’s bright your skin requires extra protection. But what do you know about protecting your skin during the rest of the year? Are extra precautions necessary in the dimmer fall months, or the chilly winter ones? By going outside during these months with unprotected skin are you putting yourself at risk for sunburn? Here’s what you need to know when caring for your skin during those trickier, cooler months.
Sneaky Sun: UVA v. UVB
Whether you can believe it or not, the UVA rays that damage your skin and increase your risk of developing skin cancer, are still shining down on you in the colder half of the year. Although the sun may feel considerably weaker, primarily because the temperature has dropped and it feels cooler, does not mean that they aren’t having a negative effect on your skin. Many people assume that because their skin isn’t burning, the sun isn’t causing damage. In reality, there are two different types of UV rays:
UVA- These rays shine through clouds and glass, and are present all hours of the day, yearlong. UVA rays penetrate the skin more deeply than other types of UV light. While they don’t cause sunburn, what we most commonly associate with skin damage, they are responsible for tans, your skin’s natural defense to further skin damage.
UVB- These rays are responsible for the reddened, irritated, burnt skin that develops after overexposure to the sun. These rays are most prevalent from April to October, from noon to four.
Both of these types of UV rays cause your skin considerable damage. People who are regularly overexposed to UVA rays are much more likely to develop skin cancer. UVB rays (which are always accompanied by UVA) result in sunburn which is painful and causes skin to age considerably faster than normal.
How To Protect Yourself Year Round
An easy way to approach skin protection is to assume that you always need it. If you are planning to spend time outside during the day, no matter the month, degree of cloudiness, or temperature you should be wearing some form of SPF component. Remember that you can get sunburned during cold months if you are at a higher altitude or near reflective surfaces like ice. Otherwise your main concern should be protecting against more serious UVA rays, which are prevalent throughout the entire day. Make sure to always:
Wear a sunscreen or moisturizer that contains SPF 15 at least.
Consider some sort of protective gear for the sensitive skin on your face and neck, like a hat.
If it’s comfortable and appropriate, opt for clothing that covers your skin and materials that don’t let rays shine through.
Make your sunscreen says “broad spectrum” or specifies UVA protection. Many products will only protect against UVB rays leaving you vulnerable to the negative effects of UVA.
Knowing about the different kinds of UV light and when you can expect to experience is the first step in protecting against them.
Dr. Scott Darling of KC Healthy Skin knows the sun can be sneaky but any of the damage it causes is preventable!