While most of us wouldn’t think twice about packing a sunscreen for our family’s beach holiday, we often forget that UV rays are also prevalent during the winter. In fact, UV rays during the winter may cause more damage than those we encounter on the beach.
Our winter holidays often involve snow and you may be surprised to learn that for every 1,000 feet of elevation, UV exposure increases 8 to 10 percent. So if you have an ‘average’ complexion and are skiing or boarding at 11,000 feet above sea level in Colorado at around noon, you’ll burn after just six minutes of unprotected sun exposure. This is compared to burning after 14 minutes in Florida! Snow also reflects nearly 80 percent of the sun’s UV rays, so you’ll be hit by the same rays more than once.
Protect your family’s skin during the winter by first practicing winter safe sun strategies:
- Limit the time you spend in full sunlight, especially between 10 am and 4 pm. Take breaks if you can to rest your skin.
- Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. Children in particular, are more prone to dehydration.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants made of dark or brightly colored, tightly woven fabrics; these offer greater protection.
- Protect eyes and eyelids from UV exposure to decrease the risk of eye disorders, including cataracts and macular degeneration. This applies to children as well.
Choose the best sunscreen for winter vacations by selecting a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher, on your face. Remember to protect lips and other sensitive areas – ears, neck, hands as well – with an SPF of 15 or higher to protect against sun and wind. And finally, reapply at least every 2 hours — more often after sweating or exposure to wind and snow. Spread the sunscreen liberally (two ounces, a golf ball-sized amount) and evenly over all exposed skin.
Prevention is the best protection you can give yourself. By following the above precautions and choosing the best sunscreen for your winter vacation, you can prevent sunburns and the long term skin damage associated with sun exposure.
So how do you choose the best sunscreen for winter?
- Look for a broad spectrum formulation that offers protection against UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays, which contribute to sun damaged skin and some types of skin cancers are just as prevalent in the winter as in the summer.
- The best sunscreen for winter will also be photostable, meaning that it wont’ degrade when exposed to sunlight.
- The best sunscreen for winter should be easy to apply. Ideally it will be water resistant to sweat but feel comfortable on your skin so that you keep using it.
Products with Mexoryl SX and Mexoryl XL found in the Anthelios line by La Roche Posay and Ombrelle offer photostable UVA and UVB protection in SPFs ranging form 30 to 60. It comes in a wide range of formulations so you’re sure to find the best sunscreen for your next winter holiday.
Anthelios Spray SPF 30 is ideal all-purpose sunscreen. It comes in a convenient spray formulation that is water resistant, fragrance free and ideal for the whole family.