You’re less likely to get sunburnt during fall and winter months, however your unprotected skin is still exposed to damaging UVA rays. UVA rays penetrate deeply into the dermis, the skin’s thickest layer, causing premature aging and contributing to skin cancer development.
Winter is a popular time to visit higher altitudes for the ski season. At higher altitudes, a thinner atmosphere filters less UV radiation. With every 1000-metre increase in altitude, the UV levels increase by 10% to 12% (World Health Organisation, 2017). This factor, combined with the reflection from snow, can result in up to 80% of UV rays potentially causing significant sun damage to exposed skin and eyes.
We suggest wearing UV protective sunglasses, and applying and re-applying a broad spectrum SPF sunscreen to exposed areas every two hours to protect your skin from UV exposure.
Sun damage that causes skin cancer is cumulative. The threat of sunburn is less imminent during autumn and winter, making it easy to forget to wear sunscreen and protective clothing when venturing outdoors for a mid-winter hike or bike ride. The cloudy, foggy weather during the colder months can also trick people into thinking that they can go outdoors without sun protection. Even when there are thick clouds and fog, up to 80% of UVA rays are still able to penetrate through to the earth’s surface, and damage to your skin adds up over time.
For those that love hiking, running and exploring the outdoors during the colder months, protect your skin as though it’s still the middle of summer. Apply a broad-spectrum SPF sunscreen daily, consider wearing a wide-brimmed hat, and wear sun protective clothing. Solbari has a great range of sun protective clothing that is suitable for a wide range of outdoor activities all year round.
With the arrival of the cooler months, it is a great time to contact your dermatologist for your annual skin check to stay on top of any skin concerns you might have.
Tips for sun protection during the colder months
- UV rays can get through clouds, fog and haze. Up to 80% of the sun’s UV rays can penetrate clouds.
- Snow reflects as much as 80% of UV radiation, which is much higher than the amount reflected by water or dry beach sand.
- While enjoying winter sports, take precaution. High altitudes, combined with the UV rays reflected by snow will increase your risk of skin damage.
- Wear a hat or mask that covers your head, neck and face.
- Wear sun protective clothing that covers as much of your body as possible. Even in winter, there are parts of our skin that are still exposed to the sun, such as your face, hands and eyes.
- Apply a liberal amount of SPF 30+ broad-spectrum water-resistant sunscreen to clean, dry skin, at least 15 minutes before sun exposure. Reapply at least every two hours when outdoors or immediately after strenuous sports sweating.