Should I Use Sunscreen in Winter?

Should I Use Sunscreen in Winter?

Harsh winter weather can do more than dry out your skin.

It is a well-known fact that sun exposure is directly related to skin damage.


But many people are unaware that even on overcast days, UV rays are still able to penetrate through the clouds and cause damage.


Therefore it is crucial to wear a daily broad-spectrum sunscreen throughout the year.

Girl with streak of sunscreen on her cheek, leaning on her hands with eyes closed

“No matter how cold or cloudy the weather is outside, behind the sunlight, UV rays are still active and can harm your skin.”

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, 80% of the sun’s rays can pass through clouds. What’s more, the sun’s harmful rays are just as intense and harmful despite colder temperatures, especially UVA rays, which penetrate deep into the dermis and contribute to photoaging and increased risk of skin cancer.


The graphic below explains the difference between sunscreen types and how to understand the rating systems SPF and PA.


Table describing the active ingredients in sunscreen, the types of UV, and the rating systems of sunscreens
Graphic showing the damage caused by UVA and UVB rays

“Nearly 95% of skin aging comes from sun exposure.”

Here are five factors to consider when protecting your skin from the winter sun

  • 1. High Altitudes:


According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, the exposure to UV radiation increases by about 4-5 percent for every 1,000 feet above sea level, meaning the higher you are the more exposed to the sun you are.


For example, ultraviolet radiation from an altitude of 9,000 to 10,000 feet can be 35 to 45 percent more powerful than at sea level.


This means that when you are high in the mountains skiing or snowboarding, you are also increasing your exposure to harmful UV rays.

Snowy mountains with snowboader and skiier going down


Even though you might be unaware of the powerful UV rays in the freezing cold, they are just as (if not more) potent and dangerous. More on that below...

    • 2. Reflective Surfaces:
Sun rays shining through clouds on a pink sky


When UV rays strike reflective surfaces such as ice and snow, up to 80 percent of the UV radiation is reflected off, meaning it actually hits the skin twice – compared to 20 percent of reflected UV rays from sand on the beach.


Reflection of UV lights from snow and ice greatly increases the risk of sun damage and requires careful and strong sun protection.

  • 3. Cloud Penetration:


Many people think that it is not necessary to use sunscreen in the winter because it is cloudy and foggy outside. However, 80 percent of the sun's UVA and UVB rays can penetrate clouds. In addition, the type of cloud also impacts how much of the UV rays pass through. The transmitted ultraviolet rays can lead to strong scattered and reflected ultraviolet radiation on cloudy days, and the cloud coverage can change within a few hours.


REMEMBER: UV radiation is the cause of sun damage, not temperature.


A cold or cloudy day can have UV levels similar to those of a warm sun.


TIP: Reapply your sunscreen at least every two hours, if you're outdoors for extended periods of time, even when it's cold and cloudy outside.


Girl applying sunscreen in dots on her cheek

We highly recommend our Complete No-Stress Physical Sunscreen, which you can read a detailed blog about here!

  • 4. Snow and Wind:
Dark snowy city street with blue lights

Both snow and strong winds can wear out your sunscreen, reducing its effectiveness. Therefore it is necessary to take additional protective measures.


In addition, these tough winter elements can weaken your skin's natural protective barrier, leaving your skin vulnerable to sun damage. So it is crucial to protect your skin from extreme cold, harsh winds and winter sun by strengthening the skin's natural moisture barrier by applying topical moisturizing solutions and antioxidants along with your daily UVA / UVB physical broad-spectrum sunscreen.


Here is a blog on how to protect your Skin protective barrier with our Water Your Skin set.


  • 5. Sweat:


While it may be cold in the winter, you still have sweat glands which will produce sweat if your body temperature rises from intense exercise. And sweat is an enemy of sunscreen.


That is why it is important to reapply sunscreen several times throughout the day.


(At least every two hours, and more if you sweat or get wet from rain or snow)

Man running on a road, surrounded by snowy mountains


Winter is often associated with the freezing cold, rather than sunburn and photodamage. However, it is important not to forget that UV rays still cause damage even in the cold.

So, what type of sunscreen should you be wearing exactly?

Types of Sunscreen

Graphic showing the difference between chemical sunscreen and physical sunscreen


As shown above, the differences between chemical and physical sunscreen are actually quite significant. A chemical sunscreen absorbs into the skin and absorbs the UV rays, converting them into heat before releasing them from the body. Physical sunblock, on the other hand, sits on top of the skin and reflects UV rays.


Some people might be tempted to opt for the chemical sunscreen as it is less thick, absorbs into the skin quickly and has no whitecast. However physical sunscreens are generally seen as better for the skin, as it does not penetrate into it. Not to mention it is better for the for the environment. Chemical sunscreens contain ingredients that are damaging to coral reefs, whereas physical sunscreens are completely reef-safe.


Here at AXIS-Y we care about protecting our environment, so our Complete No-Stress Physical Sunscreen was developed with this in mind.


Our sunscreen:


  • • Is SPF 50 + PA ++++ and is ISO certified


  • • Contains no artificial fragrance
                                              • • Includes 2% Niacinamide and squalane,   protecting the skin’s barrier and locking in moisture.
  • • Leaves minimal whitecast. While there may be some initial whitecast upon application, this genereally fades in a few minutes.
  • • Has a semi-dewy, non-oily finish
Complete No-Stress Physical Sunscreen surrounded by white dots of sunscreen in a pattern


Our goal was to create an effective sunscreen that was not only good for your skin but also good for the environment. No matter what type of sunscreen you use, always remember to protect your skin, whatever the weather!


So tell us! Did you know there were two different types of sunscreen? What type of sunscreen do you use?

featured Complete No-Stress Physical Sunscreen AXIS-Y

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