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Skincare for cold weather

Should I Wear Sunscreen When It Is Cold Outside?

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When it is sunny and bright, sunscreen typically crosses the average person’s mind at least once or twice, especially if you’re going to the beach. But when it gets cold, people often dismiss the use of sunscreen. This is a mistake! Even when the weather is cold, cloudy or overcast, sunscreen is necessary. Cold weather doesn’t mean that the sun isn’t still powerful. The sun’s ultraviolet rays, also known as UV rays, penetrate clouds and can still have a major effect on the skin.

There are three types of ultraviolet rays: UVB, UVA and UVC. The two types of UV light that contribute to the risk for skin cancer are UVA and UVB rays. Most people don’t realize that prolonged sun exposure can still raise your chances for skin cancer even if you don’t get a sunburn.

There are many options for sunscreen on the market. No matter what brand or type you choose, look for sunscreen with SPF 30 or above. To be clear, just because it is colder doesn’t mean you should wear a weaker sunscreen. Sunscreen should be worn daily no matter your skin tone. If you’re going to be spending more than a few minutes outside, apply and reapply as needed. When outdoors, reapply sunscreen every two hours, or after swimming or sweating, according to the directions on the bottle.

Incorporating sunscreen into your winter skincare routine doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, the best basic skincare routine requires a cleanser, moisturizer and sunscreen. You may want to switch sunscreens in the winter for something heavier or lighter depending on your skin.

You should also wear sunscreen even when you’re indoors. If you’re near open windows, sunscreen is still a necessity because the sun’s rays can still reach you. This includes when you’re inside of a vehicle. To avoid having to wear sunscreen indoors, consider keeping your blinds and curtains closed during the day to filter the sun’s rays.

While the summer is when the sun is at its harshest, you should keep these skin protection tips in mind when venturing outside any time of year:

  • Avoid the midday sun from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Cover as much of your skin as possible with temperature-appropriate attire.
  • Wear long sleeves, hats and sunglasses.
  • Apply lip balm with SPF 30 or higher (titanium dioxide or zinc oxide) before going outside. While outside, apply every two hours. If you suffer from constantly dry lips, read this blog.

Learn more about Dr. Katie Watson. Make a Dermatology appointment at Ochsner Health.

Cold weather is hard on the skin. Here are a few more winter skincare tips to keep in mind.

  • Limit baths and showers to once daily, less than 10 minutes long, and use lukewarm (not hot) water.
  • Wash with a gentle, fragrance-free cleanser (my favorites are Vanicream Gentle Body Wash, Dove Sensitive Skin Body Wash and Cetaphil Ultra Gentle Fragrance-Free Body Wash).
  • Gently pat dry and apply your moisturizer within three minutes of bathing. Reapply moisturizer at least twice daily.
  • Ointments and creams are more effective than lotions.

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