Today’s Winter Weather Forecast: Don’t Forget Your Sunscreen!

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Summer is long gone, and the brisk autumn air is making way for the bitter cold winter winds. Those of us who experience blizzards and ice storms on a regular basis understand all too well the harsh reality that is the “changing of the seasons.” One day its 60 degrees and the sun is shining. The next day your car door is frozen shut and your mailbox is encased in an ice coffin. Mother nature is not particularly demure and does not make a quiet entrance – in fact, she’s a total drama queen. Many of us know what it means to hibernate in the winter – wrap yourself in a warm blanket, throw a log in the wood burning fireplace, and avoid the gym at all costs to build up that protective layer of flab. The sad reality of winter though is that life goes on and we have to face the elements sometimes, whether by choice or not. And just because you’ll barely see the sun over the next five months doesn’t mean that you should pack away that sunscreen with your beach towel.

Don't let the weather fool you...

Aleisha Fetters penned an article for Details earlier this year that asked “Do You Really Need to Wear Sunscreen in the Winter?” She has some compelling reasons for why the answer is undoubtedly “YES!” I think most of us understand that clouds provide no protection from the suns rays, but Fetters also cites some more obscure facts that are quite compelling. She writes that the ozone layer is at its thinnest during this season, leaving us more vulnerable to those nasty UVA and UVB’s. So slather the good stuff on before you wrap your entire body in fleece!

...especially if you're an outdoorsy type!

Sunscreen is particularly important for those of us who opt not to hibernate, but rather enjoy outdoor winter sports: skiing, snowboarding, snow-shoeing, and the like. Audubon Dermatology posted some great Skin Care Tips for Ski Season. They recommend using a strong, sweat proof sun block when hitting the slopes because snow reflects the suns rays causing “double sun exposure.” Another article on SkinCancer.org piles on the data encouraging the sunscreen even if there’s snow on the ground. When skiing at higher altitudes the risk of skin damage from the sun is increased 4 to 5 percent for every 1,000 feet you are above sea level. If you’re on a mountain at an altitude of 10,000 feet, UV rays can be anywhere between 35 and 45 percent more intense than at sea level.

In conclusion, even the ugliest Christmas sweater cannot protect your skin from sun damage in the winter, so be sure to liberally apply on a daily basis! Just think of it this way – maybe the smell of sunscreen alone will remind you – if even for a brief moment – of the shining sun on a perfect beach day! Don’t worry – spring will be here before you know it…