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Sunscreen not just for summer: Why you should protect your skin in winter

The sun is out all year long which means we are exposed to the damaging rays of the sun all winter long, even during a polar vortex.

Polar vortex weather still brings sunshine
Photo by Afton Almaraz/Getty Images

Prevention of carcinomas and other skin damage occurs by limiting exposure to sun and by protecting the skin from head to toe when you are in the sun. This includes not just winter sports, hiking and other outdoor activities, but also time driving, walking to and from the car, to and from the mailbox, spending time in partial shade, and all the time near windows as well as out in the sun.

Sun reflects off of houses, water, signs, concrete, snow, cars, sidewalks, windows, ice, etc. so even when you are in the shade or in a car, you are getting sun. The sun easily pierces clouds, windows, light cotton/linen hats, shirts, shorts, light pants, and open weave sweaters, so you get plenty of sun even when you don't think you are getting any.

A high-number broad-spectrum sunscreen is needed to protect your skin if you are outdoors much or have a tendency to skin cancer. Even if your exposure is just driving to and from work and going out for lunch, you still need to wear sunscreen all winter long. This not only helps prevent skin cancer, but also reduces or eliminate age spots and photoaging.

All sunscreens needs to offer full broad-spectrum UVB and UVA protection. Sweat and water remove sunscreen, and the ingredients break down after a couple of hours, so sunscreen should be reapplied throughout the day for maximum protection. Hats, goggles, sunglasses with UVA/UVB protection and gloves will also help, as will wearing shirts and jackets with collars or hoods, even during a polar vortex.

If you have any questions about sunscreen, feel free to contact me.

Find more info and winter sunscreen suggestions here.

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