The importance of sunscreen can’t be overstated – even after the scorching days of summer are in the rearview mirror. You need to protect your skin no matter what the calendar says. Even on cool or cold days, the sun can still damage exposed skin.
Here’s some information on why you should keep that bottle of sunscreen handy all throughout the year in order to give your skin the protection it needs from the harmful effects of the sun’s UV, or ultraviolet rays.
How UVA And UVB Rays Can Affect Your Skin (Even When Summer Is Over)
There are two types of UV rays – UVA and UVB. Too much UV exposure can have dangerous long-term effects, whether it comes from UVA or UVB rays. UVA radiation can cause premature aging of skin, leading to the development of wrinkles. UVB radiation causes sunburns, which can lead to severe skin damage.
Some people like to keep a tan no matter what time of year it may be. But according to the American Academy of Dermatology, there is no safe way to do so. Every time you tan, you accelerate the aging process of your skin. It also puts you at a higher risk for health problems caused by overexposure to radiation emitted by ultraviolet UV light.1
Radiation from UV rays is especially dangerous during winter, no matter what your skin type. This is the time of year that the earth’s ozone layer is at its thinnest. The ozone layer provides protection from exposure to UV rays. Cold temperatures make it easier for dangerous UV rays to get to your skin.2
Vitamin D And Sunlight
The sun is a source of vitamin D. This vitamin is important for keeping your bones healthy. If you have a vitamin D deficiency, that could lead to brittle bones. Vitamin D is also important for a healthy immune system. UVB rays combine with a skin protein known as 7-DHC to produce vitamin D.
Some people feel that if they use sunscreen, they won’t get enough of this critically important vitamin. But there is no scientific evidence that shows daily sunscreen use will increase your chances of developing a vitamin D deficiency.
If you use sunscreen every day to protect your skin, you will still get plenty of vitamin D from sunlight.3
Choosing The Right Sunscreen
Wearing a wide-brimmed hat may help provide protection from harmful UV rays. Protective clothing such as long-sleeved shirts can also act as UV filters. But sunscreen is the best way to shield your skin from the damaging effects of the sun.
There is no “one size fits all” sunscreen that’s perfect for everyone. Selecting the best sunscreen will depend on several factors, including skin tone and the amount of sun exposure you get. A dermatologist can help you pick the right product for your exact needs.
Here are a few different options you can choose from. No matter what you select, make sure it offers Broad Spectrum Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 30. This will help ensure UVA and UVB protection.
- Skin Care Products – You’ll find a lot of cosmetic products that offer UV protection. These include products such as foundation, moisturizer, and lipstick or lip balm. These products are great for days where you aren’t spending much time outdoors. If you’re going to be outside a lot, you’ll still need to slather on sunscreen.
- Water-Resistant Products – Many sunscreens do a good job of providing skin protection even if you sweat or swim a lot. However, they are not completely waterproof. If you’re going to stay outside after a swim, you’ll still need to reapply sunscreen once you dry off.
- Mineral Sunscreens – These contain active ingredients that are designed to be safe for everyday use. Unlike other sunscreens, the skin doesn’t absorb these products – they sit on the skin’s surface instead, making them ideal for those with sensitive skin.4
What Ingredients Should You Look for In A Sunscreen?
Two ingredients are particularly effective in providing protection to the skin: zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Both of these ingredients resist breaking down when exposed to sunlight.5
Many sunscreens contain harsh chemicals that are potentially dangerous to your skin. Look for sunscreens that are labeled as “non-chemical” or “mineral”.
Got A Sunburn? When To See Your Doctor Or Dermatologist
If you do happen to get a sunburn, there are some instances where you should see a medical professional. Severe sunburns can lead to significant peeling or blistering of skin. If you experience these symptoms along with a fever, pain, vomiting, or dehydration, it’s time to see a doctor or dermatologist.6
There’s no reason why you shouldn’t enjoy the outdoors. Just remember that even if the weather is cool, you should still protect yourself from exposure to UV rays. Take the necessary precautions if you plan on being outside for an extended period of time during the fall or winter.
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