A common misconception is that more protection from UV exposure is needed in the summer than in the winter. Although the strength of the sun’s UVB rays diminish slightly in the winter months, the UVA rays remain constant throughout the year, making overexposure still a threat to healthy skin. The fact that snow can reflect up to 80% of the sun’s rays, while sand only reflects 15% and water only 10%, makes a moisturizer with broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays a must in every winter skin care regimen. Skin that is already stressed, dry and dehydrated may be more susceptible to the damage caused by UV radiation and more in need of even better protection.
The sun is the primary source of ultraviolet (UV) radiation. UV rays are broken down into UVA, UVB and UVC according to their wavelength:
• UVA – 320-400 nanometers
• UVB – 280-320 nanometers
• UVC – 200-280 nanometers
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States with an estimated 1,000,000 new cases of non-melanoma skin cancers reported in 2008. Many people associate skin cancer with sun bathing and dismiss the UV risk during the winter months. This is not a safe assumption. Get in the habit of wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 every day, all year. Also, because UVA rays are constant throughout the year, be sure that your sunscreen contains one of the following UVA protective ingredients:
- titanium dioxide
- zinc oxide
Also, don’t leave your wide-brimmed hat at home just because it’s cold outside. With the sun being the number one cause of visible aging in the skin, avoiding unnecessary sun exposure and wearing broad-spectrum sun protection and hats daily will not only keep your skin safe, but will keep you looking younger.