Humans and Health

The Importance of Sunscreen in the Winter

picture of sunscreen
Charlotte Bowers


SPF and Skincare – many of us have daily skincare routines either with lots of products or very few. But scientists argue that you should be wearing sunscreen every day as part of your skincare routine to protect against things such as photoaging and hyperpigmentation. Is it true that the sun can cause such damage to your skin even in winter? Charlotte Bowers investigates. 

Using SPF in our everyday skincare routines is the most crucial aspect for many health-related reasons. Not only does too much exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays cause burning and dryness in our skin, but there is also a severe risk of developing skin cancer from the damage. Although, on a brighter note, the sun does provide us with Vitamin D and many other beneficial aspects for our health. But what many of us don’t realise is that we can also burn when it’s cloudy, so it is extremely important to use SPF every day throughout the year.

UV exposure accounts for 80% of visible ageing in the face

According to Flament and colleagues (2013), UV exposure accounts for 80% of visible ageing in the face. Scientists have also claimed that the sun is the greatest cause of hyperpigmentation – a condition that causes areas of skin to appear darker than others. The skin’s natural pigment is controlled by melanin which absorbs harmful UV rays and protects the skin cells from sun damage. Although, excessive sun exposure alters this process and leads to hyperpigmentation. Another consequence of too much sun exposure is dehydrated skin, for the sun can deplete the levels of fatty acids; the protective skin barrier is broken down from sun exposure which leaves the skin vulnerable to damage. For these reasons, and many more, it is extremely important to use SPF products to avoid damage to the skin.

The NHS suggest that you should buy sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30, which will protect the skin against ultraviolet B radiation (UVB). They further recommend that your sunscreen should have at least 4-star UVA protection. There is a rating scale of 2 to 50+ for the level of protection that the SPF offers; the higher the rating, the stronger the UVB protection. There is also a star rating on sunscreens that measures the amount of UVA protection. When buying a sun cream, look for “UVA” inside a circle, for this indicates that the sunscreen meets EU recommendations.

To effectively use SPF when you are exposed to sunlight, the NHS recommend applying sunscreen 30 minutes prior to going outside, and again just before going out. This is particularly important during the summer, although, you can also get burned in the winter, even when it’s cloudy! So, it is extremely important to include an SPF product in your skincare routine throughout the year.

Alongside the damaging effects, there have been multiple health benefits from sun exposure that have been stated by scientists, such as the production of vitamin D. So, as long you remember to keep using SPF every day of the year, you can significantly help your skin in the long run!

Charlotte Bowers

Featured image courtesy of Onela Ymeri via Unsplash. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image.

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