Warning: Don’t Ditch Sunscreen In Winter

Being told to do something, without being given the reasons why, often falls on deaf ears.

Eat more leafy greens… don’t bite your nails… drink plenty of water… floss.

But when we’re aware of the facts as to why these often mundane things are important, we’re far more likely to adhere to the advice.

Eat more greens – they’re packed with antioxidants, contain more vitamin C than oranges and are a great source of minerals such as calcium and iron.

Don’t bite your nails – it looks ugly and is a habit you’ll find really, really hard to break later in life.

Drink plenty of water – the human body is composed of about 60-70 percent water and it’s vital for you to function.

Floss – brushing your teeth is insufficient if you want to maintain healthy teeth and gums.

Get it? Good.

This is also the case when it comes to the many pieces of beauty advice our writers have handed out over the years. A former magazine beauty editor, writer Georgia has lost count of the number of suncare features she’s written, yet her own sister still insists that her SPF 4 oil is perfectly adequate in the Mediterranean sun. ‘But I tan so easily and never burn.’ Sigh.

So speaking of SPF, and with winter being in full swing, we felt it only right to remind you of the importance of maintaining a strict sun protection regime, even in these months when the sun is less visible to the naked eye. Why? Because a banging beauty plan will only go so far if it doesn’t include sunscreen – the single, most important, anti-aging step – all year long.

We firmly believe that wearing a medical-grade sunscreen that contains skin-loving ingredients and potent antioxidants will not only protect your skin from future damage, but better allow for it to regenerate during the day. Come rain or shine.

Here, Dr. Stephen Ronan, MD FACS, a board-certified plastic surgeon and founder of Blackhawk Plastic Surgery in Danville, California explains further…

Q: Do I really need to wear sunscreen on my face in winter if the sun is nowhere to be seen?

A: “YES!” exclaims Dr Ronan.

“The ozone layer (which is what blocks UVB rays before they hit us) is actually thinner during the winter, and a whopping 80 percent of the rays go right through those clouds. So when in doubt, apply. Most of us think the sun is less intense during the winter meaning we’re less likely to apply sunscreen. This is a mistake you don’t want to make.”

Q: Should I look for anything different in my winter sunscreen to that of my summer SPF?

A: “Not really. Simply find a sunscreen you like and use it through the winter, summer and basically any time you go outside. Increase the SPF for longer exposure times and be sure to reapply.”

Q: But my skin feels much drier in the winter months. Can I wear a moisturizer and sunscreen?

A: “Of course. Many sunscreens include a good amount of moisturizing ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, but if your favorite doesn’t, then you can always apply both. Just remember, your sun protection should always be applied AFTER moisturizer in order to get the protection necessary to prevent UV damage and premature aging.”

HintMD Favorite: EltaMD UV Facial Broad-Spectrum SPF 30+

Q: Is there an optimum SPF for winter?

A: “This really depends on your skin type, propensity to burn and how long you’re planning to spend outside. SPF should be adjusted up and down according to your level of activity and length of exposure, but I would never recommend anything below SPF 15 for every day use. Preferably an SPF 30.”

Q: Do you have any special advice for skin safety after it’s been snowing?

A: “Snow and ice are very reflective of UV rays, so you need to be extra careful after a dumping of snow. It’s a good idea to use a high level SPF while skiing to protect your face from windburn and the sun, and don’t forget your lips as they’re also very sun-sensitive.”

Q: Wearing sunscreen makes my skin break out ­– any tips?

A: “Choose a lightweight, oil-free and non-acne causing formulation. These can keep your skin clear while protecting it as well. It may be a matter of trial and error, but there really is a sunscreen out there to suit everyone. ”

HintMD Favorite: Colorescience Sunforgettable Brush-On Sunscreen SPF 50

Q: Can sunscreen also protect against wind burn? 

A: “Part of windburn is the loss of moisture in the skin, so the most important thing to remember is to maintain a regular skincare routine which keeps your skin healthy and hydrated. If your sunscreen contains moisturizing ingredients, this can be helpful, but if not, moisturize before you apply your SPF. Covering exposed skin is the most effective way to prevent windburn, but if you do get struck, try a little aloe gel to help soothe and heal.”

Written by: Georgia Gould