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The Importance of Sun Protection Even in the Winter

We know that many people associate sunscreen with hot, sunny, summer weather. While sunscreen is definitely important during that time of year, it’s equally important during the winter.

Even though currently you may be more worried about frostbite and wind chill, if you’re out in the elements while temperatures are freezing, you are at increased risk for overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Remember that more than 90% of all skin cancers are associated with sun exposure, regardless of the time of year when exposure occurs.

While your state may not often get snow, most of us have our fair share of cold temperatures and strong wind. These elements can wear away sunscreen and reduce its effectiveness, so it’s important to take extra precautions.

To protect your skin from the bitter cold, heavy winds and winter sun, follow these important sun protection tips:

  • Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher whenever you spend extended time outdoors. If it does snow where you live or if you’re vacationing in a snowy environment, be aware that the sun’s reflection off the snow is strong even on cloudy days.
  • Apply sunscreen liberally and evenly to all exposed skin 30 minutes before spending time outside.
  • Use a moisturizing sunscreen with ingredients like lanolin or glycerin since winter conditions can be very harsh on the skin.
  • Be sure to cover often-missed spots, such as lips, ears, around the eyes, the neck, the underside of the chin, scalp and hands.
  • Reapply sunscreen every two hours.
  • Lips are particularly sensitive, so always wear a lip balm with an SPF 15 or higher.
  • Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.

Just because it’s colder outside, there’s no reason to let up on the sun safe habits you practice the rest of the year. Continuing your skin and sun protection throughout the colder, cloudier months will further reduce your risk for skin cancer complications down the road.

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