SPF cream during the winter: Should we be wearing it?

Do you wear sun protection cream in the winter? [Photo: Pexels]
Do you wear sun protection cream in the winter? [Photo: Pexels]

When autumn rolls round, prepping to leave the house suddenly becomes a whole lot easier. You no longer need to worry about whether or not you’ve got hairy legs and a chunky knit covers all manner of food baby related sins. So getting ready in the mornings is suddenly much quicker.

But while the daily shaves and the diets can be put to one side, one thing you shouldn’t drop from your routine is sun protection. Yep, you still need to slap on the sun cream – even in the deepest depths of winter.

The benefits of wearing SPF cream in the winter

Cruelly, just because you’re not basking in the warm glow of the sun, it doesn’t mean you’re safe from its rays.

“UVA rays occur even when it is cloudy outside, and the UVA rays are the ones that can lead to skin ageing and cancer,” says Dr Mervyn Patterson, cosmetic dermatologist at Woodford Medical. “Sunscreen should be worn at least on the face, and exposed skin, all year-round.”

UVA rays not only accelerate skin aging but are also linked to melanoma.

Dr Ross Perry, GP and medical Director of CosmedicsUK, adds: “Winter sun can be misleading. We don’t feel the heat and are less likely to burn, yet the rays can still penetrate the skin.”

Does it matter how long you’re spending outside?

Of course, if you work outside you’re going to be exposed to more sunlight – but even office workers who have to walk to the train station or nip out to buy a meal deal are exposed to the sun.

“Sunscreen should be worn for any time at all spent outside, even in winter,” Dr Perry advises. “Sun damage can build up a cumulative effect.”

Isn’t SPF make-up enough?

Foundations and BB creams tend to boast at least a low SPF factor of sun protection, but how does this compare with a sun cream?

“For best protection, you should apply two layers of sunscreen: one layer of a ‘normal’ sunscreen and then the make-up with SPF – especially depending on how high of an SPF the makeup has and whether or not it provides broad spectrum protection,” explains Dr Patterson.

“There are some excellent mineral makeups that have zinc and titanium as their key sun protection ingredients with SPF values as high as 50 – I recommend Epionce Ultra Shield Lotion SPF 50 as a base sunscreen to everyone.”

What kind of sun cream do I need for winter?

When buying a sunscreen you need to check out two things on the bottle – the SPF level and UVA star rating. SPF measures the cream’s protection against UVB rays (which cause burning), while the UVA star rating measures coverage against UVA rays (which cause aging, wrinkles and skin cancer).

However, it’s important to note that a sun cream with a five star UVA rating and a low SPF will provide less protection against UVA rays than a product with top ratings in both categories.

“If you get on with a sunscreen, then there’s no reason not to wear the same one year round. Choose a high protection with a minimum SPF 30 every day, all year,” says Dr Perry. “In winter you’re less likely to need ingredients to stop it sweating off or washing off in the sea, so it can be nice to choose one which sits well under makeup.”

Applying sun cream might be a pain, but at least you’ll still get to smell summer every morning in January.

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