May 27 is National Sunscreen Day, and while that might seem odd coming into winter, it highlights the importance of year-round sunscreen protection.
Dr Scott McGregor, skin cancer and cosmetic physician, and co-founder of We Are Feel Good Inc. explains why.
Can I burn even in winter or on cloudy days?
Clouds are better at blocking visible light compared with UV light. Clouds block as little as 50 per cent of UVA and UVB rays. Hence sunburn on a cloudy day is common if your skin is not protected. UV is not the light that causes heat (this is mostly infrared) so sun damage can occur before you feel heat, another trap on a cloudy day.
Are the effects of the sun different in winter compared to summer?
The effects are exactly the same, but as mentioned, you will get less warning that you are getting sunburn/sun damage on a cloudy day.
Should I still be wearing sunscreen daily during winter?
Yes, in Australia you certainly should. In most parts of our country there are few days throughout the year where you will not be exposed to UV rays that are potentially harmful. It can still take as little as 10 minutes of exposure to cause damage, even on a cold and cloudy day! To be safe, apply SPF 50 to your exposed skin every morning, and reapply as required.
Why is it important to wear sunscreen when at the snow?
It is super important to wear sunscreen in the snow! Snow reflects as much as 75 per cent of UV rays straight back at you, as well as the increased UV intensity at altitude. Re-apply regularly to any exposed areas!
Would SPF in my moisturiser or makeup be enough to protect me during winter?
Generally, no but it depends on the product and level of protection. There are two problems here. Firstly, to be called a sunscreen in Australia, you need to pass very strict testing with adequate amounts applied to the skin on real humans and tested over many hours in and out of water. Products marketed as BB or CC creams are not tested to the same extent, so you don't really know what you are getting. On top of that, the amount needed (a teaspoon for the face) is way more than anyone would apply if using an SPF makeup for example. By far the safest way to ensure your skin is protected is to apply a daily SPF 50 sunscreen lotion and apply your makeup over the top.
Will layering multiple products that have SPF in them give me more protection?
This is a tricky one. It will depend on how well the first layer settles on your skin and how well the second layer settles on top of this. I doubt that you will get more than an SPF 50 by using layers, and you may in fact be getting less if the two products interact together. If you want to layer, apply your SPF 50 first and allow it to settle on the skin for a few minutes. Then apply your makeup etc over the top.
My skin is extra dry in the winter, will sunscreen help keep it hydrated?
This depends on which sunscreen you choose to wear. I suggest choosing an SPF 50 that contains emollients to ensure the skin stays hydrated. For example, our sunscreen range contains moisturising properties like Aloe Vera and Vitamin E to keep your skin both protected and hydrated.