Should You Wear Sunscreen in Winter?

Wearing sunscreen every day during the spring and summer is easy to do since you’re anticipating being exposed to the heat and the sun’s harmful rays. But should you wear sunscreen in winter, or the months leading up to it? The answer may surprise you, but yes, it’s vital to wear sunscreen every day of the year, even in those cold, not-so-sunny Winter months.

When winter rolls around you may feel like you don’t need to protect yourself from the sun because it rarely comes out, and the cold temperatures may have you feeling like you aren’t being exposed to harmful and skin-damaging rays. But you should still be wearing sunscreen in winter because sunscreen works to help protect you, no matter the season, temperature, or direct sun exposure.

In this blog post, we’ll help you to understand the importance of wearing sunscreen in winter, the benefits of wearing sunscreen in the winter, which sunscreens are best for the season, and so much more. You can use the links below to skip ahead, but we recommend reading from start to finish to ensure you’re properly protected all winter long—trust us when we say your skin will thank you.


Do you Need Sunscreen in Winter?

Using sunscreen is not exclusively limited to the warmer seasons like spring, summer, and fall. So, when asking yourself do you need sunscreen in winter? The answer is yes! Even when it’s cloudy and snowy, wearing sunscreen in the winter is a crucial part of maintaining your skin health and happiness.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, UVB rays are one of the main causes of sunburn and those happen to be the rays that are the strongest in the summertime. But that doesn’t mean they just disappear during the Winter. UVB rays can harm your skin by burning it and damaging it year-round. Not to mention they can be even more harmful at higher altitudes and when reflecting off of surfaces like ice or snow. In fact, snow reflects up to 80 percent of the sun’s UV light. That means it can hit you twice, increasing your risks of skin cancer and skin damage. So, when you hit the slopes or are taking a break in the cozy but naturally-lit lodge, make sure you layer on that SPF.

How much of sun's UV light is reflected by snow

You now know that UVB rays are extra harmful during Winter, and we also want to remind you that UVA rays remain throughout all days of the year. UVA rays are strong enough to penetrate through glass so it is still possible to be affected by them during the winter when you are in your car running errands or sitting indoors near a window. UVA rays aren’t responsible for sunburn, but they can contribute to skin cancer like melanoma, so it’s essential to protect yourself at all times.

In addition to wearing sunscreen in the winter, you can also protect your skin in a few other ways. You can wear clothes like long sleeves, or you can layer up to ensure you are creating an additional barrier for your skin to protect it. You can also try your best to stay out of the direct sunlight by running errands and going out and about during non-peak sun exposure hours. Small protective practices, if done in a consistent and thoughtful manner, can add up to help you in a major way.

Why Use Sunscreen in Winter?

Some of the most basic, but most important, reasons to use sunscreen in winter are to protect your skin from sun damage, to prevent wrinkles caused by prolonged sun exposure, and ultimately to cut down on your chances of developing skin cancer. When we actively work toward prevention and protection, we have a better chance of keeping our skin happy and healthy throughout the decades. And really, what more could we want?

Now that you know some of the why’s behind using sunscreen in winter, we want to help you understand the benefits of dedicating yourself to wearing sunscreen every day, making sure you reapply sunscreen as necessary, and taking proper care of your skin as best as you can.

Woman putting sunscreen on small boy's face to prevent sunburn

3 Benefits of Wearing Sunscreen in Winter

As we mentioned above there are plenty of serious reasons why you should be wearing sunscreen in winter, which were mostly focused on prevention and protection. But what are some of the other benefits of wearing sunscreen in winter? Here are just a few key examples:

Prevent Premature Aging

Let’s face it, no one wants to get older, and sunscreen can help you keep your skin looking youthful and healthy. However, without proper preventive measures, you’ll be a lot more likely to end up with sun-spotted, damaged skin. That’s why it’s highly recommended that you wear sunscreen every day, no matter the cloud cover or the weather. That means wearing sunscreen in winter, fall, spring, and summer—all 365 days of the year (or 366 if it’s a leap year).

With our diverse mineral sunscreen options, wearing sunscreen no matter where you are or what you’re doing is easy. Whatever method you choose, just make sure you apply liberally to exposed areas and reapply regularly.

Keep Your Skin Hydrated

It’s no secret that winter winds and cooler temps can bring on dry skin, even if you don’t experience it other times of the year. It can be uncomfortable and leave your skin looking lackluster in your holiday photos. Fortunately, wearing sunscreen in winter can help to lock in moisture and keep your skin hydrated. When you use sunscreen with moisturizing ingredients, it’s less likely that your skin will become chapped, irritated, and dry, meaning you’ll be a lot more comfortable this winter.

Avoid Painful Sunburn

Getting a sunburn can be extremely uncomfortable, itchy, and inconvenient, but it’s also terribly damaging and detrimental to the health of your skin. Sometimes it’s easy to forget sunscreen, but the cost of that mistake can mean days or even longer of painful sunburn and all the discomfort that comes with it. Make sure to keep sunscreen on you at all times—whether you’re out visiting with friends in the shade taking a break from skiing, or even driving around doing your holiday shopping.

How Should Sunscreen Be Applied in Winter?

When applying sunscreen in the winter, you want to be sure that you are applying in the morning or before layering up and heading out for the day. We understand that when you’re layered up in long sleeves, jackets, gloves, scarves, and beanies, it can make it more difficult to reapply sunscreen. While your clothing can provide some protection, it’s also important to reapply when possible—say when you have a chance to slip inside the restroom.

Winter sun protection tips

But how much sunscreen do you need to use? You should make sure to apply sunscreen to all the exposed areas like your forehead, nose, back of your neck, hands, etc.

Not only should you apply before heading out, but it’s also important to reapply throughout the day as well. You want to try your best to reapply your sunscreen about every two hours. But if you find that you’re sweating or in direct contact with water, you want to reapply more frequently—anywhere from every 40 to 80 minutes depending on the water-resistance of your particular sunscreen.

What are the Best Sunscreens for Winter?

There are a few qualities to look for when shopping for the best sunscreen to wear during winter, including:

  • SPF 30 or higher - to provide sufficient protection from the reflecting sun rays
  • Broad-spectrum - to guard against both UVB and UVA rays
  • Moisturizing - to keep your skin hydrated and protected from getting chapped
  • Water-resistant - to protect you while you’re sledding, skiing, or snowboarding

In addition to these key qualities, you may also want to consider using mineral sunscreen instead of chemical sunscreen. This is because chemical sunscreen can include ingredients that are harmful to your health, whereas mineral sunscreen uses safe, natural ingredients.
Winter Sunscreen Tips

At Colorescience, we have a wide selection of mineral-based, chemical-free sunscreens that pass this checklist. From our brush-on sunscreen with SPF 50 to our sport sticks that are easy to swipe on while on the go, we have what you need to keep your skin safe and protected every day of the year, including the winter months.

Protect Your Skin All Winter Long

Now that you know the answer to “should I wear sunscreen in winter?”, you can make sure you’re fully protected. Hopefully, this blog post has served as a helpful reminder of how important it is to protect your skin each and every day of the year, regardless of the weather outside, or if you are staying indoors lounging and drinking hot cocoa all day.

With the above tips, you’re on your way to a winter of happy, healthy, and moisturized skin. Be sure to pick up a sunscreen that has SPF 30 or higher and is broad-spectrum, water-resistant, and mineral-based to help you protect your skin year-round.

So, which Colorescience products will you be using for your sunscreen in winter? Will it be one of our mineral powder formulas or a classic liquid sunscreen? No matter which Colorescience products you choose, you can rest assured that we’ve used natural, safe ingredients that will help protect you throughout the cold and warm months.