Yes, You Do Need to Wear Sunscreen This Winter

All day, every day.

Yes, You Do Need to Wear Sunscreen This Winter
Photo: Getty Images

Alright, people. I'm going to save you from my usual sunscreen scolding, but I do want to make one thing clear: you need to wear SPF all day, every day — even in the winter.

I know you're probably thinking, "But, there's less sun in the winter so who cares?" Well, I do! And you and your skin with thank me later. Plus, do you really think those damaging UV rays care? Baby, they will pierce through clouds like nobody's business and still wreak havoc on your skin, just like they do in the summertime.

But hey, don't just take my word for it — take Dr. Laura Scott's instead.

Dr. Scott is a Harvard-trained dermatologist who is also the associate director of Skin of Color Division at the University of Miami, so I would say she definitely knows a thing or two about the importance of wearing SPF year-round.

Here, she shares everything you need to know about wearing sunscreen in the winter.

Why Is It So Important to Wear Sunscreen in the Winter?

Long story short: while it's true that the sun's ray aren't as strong during the winter, they can still be extremely damaging.

"UV rays — particularly UVA — are still penetrating through clouds, and even through windows, and affecting your skin," Dr. Scott tells InStyle. "These rays contribute to premature aging, like wrinkling, and dark spots. Not only that, but visible light, especially blue light, also contributes, and comes from the sun as well as from our screens! I recommend my patients use a moisturizing SPF that protects against UVA/UVB and blue light."

Dr. Scott suggests reaching for a tube of EltaMD's UV Restore Broad-Spectrum SPF 40, which protects skin from not only the sun, but also HEV, IR, and pollution.

This is also my personal favorite sunscreen as well, since it doesn't leave melanin-rich skin with that white, ashy cast no one wants.

sunscreen for skin

To shop: $39;

Why Is There a Misconception About Not Needing to Wear Sunscreen in the Winter?

"I think traditionally most people only think of needing sunscreen to protect themselves from a sunburn, so we often associate it with trips to the beach or [being] by the pool," Dr. Scott explains. "But it's time we change that narrative and understand that sunscreen isn't just about protecting from those full days spent out in the sun, but also those daily moments that can add up to a lifetime of sun damage."

And that's on period!

VIDEO: When You Apply Sunscreen in Your Skincare Routine Actually Matters A Lot

How Much Relief Does Winter Provide in Regards to UV Exposure?

A bit, but not enough to justify skipping SPF.

"At certain latitudes in the wintertime the sun's UV rays are certainly weaker, and because of colder temps people are often more covered up under layers of clothing, so exposure is typically lower," Dr. Scott explains. "But UV rays are absolutely still present and still have the potential to do damage to any exposed skin, particularly our faces that are always front and center."

Will I Still Need to Wear Sunscreen If I'm Mostly Inside During the Winter?

If you have windows, the answer is hell yes!

"I always tell my patients, if you're spending any money on skincare products, trying to get an even, glowing skin tone, or anti-aging etc., then you absolutely should be wearing sunscreen indoors too."

And here's the thing: while you obviously won't get a sunburn in the dead of winter while sitting inside, UV rays and sunlight are still coming through the windows and can perpetuate premature aging and hyperpigmentation.

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