It is no secret sunscreen is essential during the summer months. But did you know it’s equally important during fall and winter and all year-round for that matter? If it is cloudy, rainy or cold, many of us assume we are safe from the sun’s harmful rays, but that isn’t the case.
It is easy to assume that if you cannot see the sun you don’t have to worry about sunscreen, but those clouds are only blocking the sunlight, not the harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays that cause skin cancer and aging. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), clouds only block about 20 percent of UV rays— so on a cloudy day you are still being exposed to 80 percent of the sun’s harsh effects.
In addition, some weather conditions actually make you even more vulnerable to the sun’s UV rays. Snow, water and sand basically act like mirrors increasing sun exposure by reflecting incoming UV rays back onto you. So in effect, you are getting a double dose of exposure. In addition, UV rays become stronger at lower (closer to the equator) and higher altitudes.
While shade is a potentially valuable means of protection from the sun, shade is not always 100 percent protective. This is because UVB rays can reach the skin indirectly. Indirect UV light is basically light that has been scattered by the clouds or reflected off other surfaces. So even though it may look as though the sun’s rays are not touching your skin, they might be.
And don’t think that because you work inside all day you are protected from UV rays either. The Skin Cancer Foundation says that 50 percent of UVA radiation can pass through windows and car windows let in more than 60 percent.
If it’s fall, winter, spring or summer, rain or shine, indoors or outdoors, always wear sunscreen!
Written by Amanda Reichert