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Preventing Winter Sunburns



Have you been told early morning or late afternoon sun isn’t dangerous?  Or that you can’t damage your skin in the winter?  Both of these statements are false.


The sun’s rays consist of UVA and UVB.  During the summer, early morning, and late afternoon, UVB rays feel less intense.  Therefore, many of us feel safer.  However, we fail to take UVA rays into consideration.  These rays penetrate the skin more deeply than UVB.  As a result, they cause significant and irreversible damage to deep parts of the skin.  UVA rays are responsible for both premature aging (wrinkles) and skin cancer.

If you take nothing else from this article, hear these words of warning:  UVA rays are just as intense in January as they are in August.  They are just as dangerous at 7 am as they are at noon.

How to Protect Your Skin All Year Long

Here are some tips that will help keep your skin safe and healthy all year long.

Protective Clothing

Luckily, it is easy to keep your skin covered and protected during the winter.  Most of us have no objection to bundling up as the temperatures dip.

When possible, use clothing to cover as much skin as you can – even in the summer.  Clothing is the best way to keep skin covered and safe.  The most commonly neglected areas are the arms and chest.  People wear short-sleeved, v-neck t-shirts and don’t worry about those little bits that are exposed.

Broad Brimmed Hats

A hat will not only protect your scalp, but it will also shield your face, neck, ears, and possibly your shoulders.  In the winter, a hat will keep you warm, stylish, and protected.  Grab a sun-safe, broad-brimmed hat, and wear it all year long.


Use broad-spectrum sunscreen everyday on all the skin that’s left uncovered.  This includes the face, neck, ears, back of hands, and tops of feet.

Look for a skin protectant that blocks UVA rays too (note: SPF only references UVB protection).  The best product will have 5% or more micronized zinc oxide.

For optimum protection, you need to apply a thick and sticky coat of sunscreen every two hours.  That’s why it is best (and easiest!) to protect skin with clothing.


As the temperature gets cooler, it is tempting to sit in the warm sun.  Remember sun rays can bounce off-pavement, sand, rocks, buildings, and more.  Therefore, if you sit in the direct sun, you could be receiving damaging UVA rays from every direction.  Instead, opt for a spot in the shade.

No matter what time of day or what month of the year, you must be vigilant about skin safety.  Follow these tips to keep your skin safe all year long.