Six ways to protect your skin this winter

·3-min read

Applying sunscreen and popping on a hat becomes second nature when heading outdoors in the summer months.

But as winter begins to sweep across the Northern Hemisphere, skin cancer expert Mr Paul Banwell is keen to remind people that even though the sun isn't as strong, it is still there, and the skin can be exposed.

Read on for his top tips for protecting your complexion.

Always wear SPF

The use of sunscreen has been shown to reduce the incidence of skin cancer as well as reduce the signs of ageing.

"To achieve maximum protection against UV radiation, sunscreen should be applied to everything that's being exposed to the sun, even the scalp," he said. "I, therefore, advocate daily use of sunscreen throughout the year and we can recommend the latest innovations in SPFs."

Avoid sunbeds

Even if you are desperate for a tan, it's always best to opt for a faux glow product.

"We know that skin cancer is caused by exposure to the Solar Constant - i.e. the combination of ultraviolet radiation (UV-A and UV-B), infrared (IR) and visible light from the sun. Intense exposure via sunbed use also dramatically increases risk of skin cancer formation (between 30-70 per cent) and, accordingly, avoidance of sunbeds is mandatory," Mr Banwell continued.

Apply sunscreen to the eyelids

When it comes to sunscreen application, ensure you cover the entire face and ears.

"There has been an increase in skin cancer around the eyes. Most people just don't think to put sunscreen there but the skin on the eyelid is very thin and is easily damaged by sun exposure, even in winter. It's really important to apply sunblock around the eyes and on the eyelids," the expert shared.

Adopt a healthy lifestyle

People must adopt healthy lifestyles to reduce the risk of cancers to maintain optimum health for as long as possible.

"I think that it's vital that we all look at our overall health as a bigger picture, and try to make lifestyle changes which aid overall health such as quitting smoking, reducing alcohol intake, getting to a healthy weight, eating a varied and nutritious diet and protecting skin from the sun's harmful UV rays using a broad-spectrum SPF that is then reapplied regularly throughout the day," he said.

Check for moles

"Look out for new or existing moles that are darkly pigmented, change in colour and/or size, have an irregular outline and itch, bleed or crust. If you are unsure or concerned that you may have one or more of these symptoms, visit your GP. They will examine your skin and be able to refer you, if necessary," shared Mr Banwell.

Take vitamin D supplements

If you aren't getting much sunshine, it is essential to supplement your diet with vitamin D.

"Vitamin D3 is the best supplement - whether in spray, dropper or tablet form - and is the one I recommend my patients take daily. There are five types of vitamin D, but the body primarily uses plant-based vitamin D2 and D3, which is found in animal products. The latter is more easily converted in the body, and a 2017 study from the University of Surrey found vitamin D3 is twice as effective as D2 in raising overall levels of vitamin D in the body. D3 can also help create calcium and protect against fractures and osteoporosis," he added.

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