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Why Wearing Sunscreen Is Important Year-Round

From safety to beauty, there’s no reason not to protect your face from winter’s cool but powerful rays.

Wearing sunscreen in winter

“Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face,” Victor Hugo is quoted as saying. Our quest for brightness in winter—including in the thin but dazzling rays of winter sunshine—is a powerful way to focus on joy and contentment during a season that can also feel dark and too quiet. 

During winter hikes, walks around the block or simply getting out and about for our daily routines, we can and should relish the feeling of crisp sunshine on our faces.

But we should be sure those faces are protected by sunscreen, no matter how early the sun sets each winter afternoon. 

Fun astronomy fact: the Earth is actually closest to the sun in January, not June! Because of the angle of the planet’s axis, temperatures are colder in the Northern hemisphere in wintertime, but the sun’s dangerous UVB rays are actually more potent at this time of year.

UVB rays are called “the burning rays” by dermatologists, and the sunburns they cause can lead to skin cancer. A layer of sunscreen that offers “full-spectrum” protection will block those harmful rays from damaging your skin. This can prevent cosmetic concerns like wrinkles and sun spots as well as the serious medical issue of skin cancer.

And then there’s the sunny downside of a walk through a winter wonderland. Snow and ice are like mirrors for the sun’s rays. Sunlight bounces off the white stuff and reflects back onto our unsuspecting faces, giving us a double-hit from above and below.

None of this should prevent us from spending time outdoors in the wintertime. In fact, some time in the bracing chill can be a refreshing, healthy habit, providing far more benefits than risks. Instead, let your knowledge of the power of the sun in winter guide you to mitigate harmful rays by adding a full-spectrum face sunscreen to your morning routine. Then toss on a pair of sun-shielding sunglasses and go take a deep breath of that fresh, beautiful winter air.

Do you wear sunscreen year-round?

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