3 reasons why wearing sunscreen in the winter is essential

Updated: December 5, 2018

Sunny winter Photo by Marina Zezelina/Shutterstock

Do you wear enough sunscreen in the winter? Or any sunscreen at all in the winter? Probably not.

“People think that when it’s cold, there’s less risk of sun damage. That is simply not true,” says Annette Cyr, the founder of the Melanoma Network of Canada. And it’s a big mistake in cottage country, with its vast canvas of snow and frozen lakes. So beautiful. So damn reflective. Snow reflects as much as 80 per cent of UV radiation.

“This is eight to 10 times more than the reflection off water or sand in summer,” says Cyr. This means that in winter:

1. All the usual rules of sun protection apply: use sunblock and lip balm with a minimum SPF of 30;reapply every two hours; and wear sunglasses with UV protection.

2. You should put sunscreen on the underside of your chin and nose. “I’ve been burnt many times on the face and neck because of reflecting UV rays,” says Cyr.

3. Big into downhill skiing? Mountain sledding? You’re at greater risk (sorry). “UV exposure increases by 10 per cent for every 3,280 feet in altitude,” says Cyr. Don’t even think about climbing Mount Logan without your sunscreen.

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