Many of us are active outdoors during winter months. Whether it’s winter sports like skiing in the Rockies or just daily dog walks, any time your skin is exposed to sun it should be protected. UV rays can be harmful year-round.
In particular when you’re skiing or snowboarding you have to watch out for the combination of higher altitude and reflection of UV rays off the snow, the Skin Cancer Foundation warns. If you’re at an altitude of 9,000-10,000 feet UV rays may be 35-45% more intense than at sea level. The bright white of snow reflects up to 80% of the sun’s light so you’re getting extra exposure to UV rays.
Most of the time we think about reapplying sunscreen when we’re swimming, sweating or when a few hours have passed. But the effects of snow on your face, coupled with wind exposure, can wear away sunscreen fast.
To combat all these factors and keep your skin safe, follow these tips:
- Use a generous amount of broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF rating of 30 or higher. Make sure all exposed areas are covered, like your scalp, neck and hands, in addition to your whole face.
- Wear lip balm with SPF 15 or higher to protect your lips.
- Cover your head – not only will you stay warmer, but you’ll reduce your scalp’s exposure to the sun.
- Wear sunglasses or goggles that have 99% or higher UV protection, especially if they are wrap-around or have big frames. This will protect your eyes and tender skin around them.
- Just like in summer, the sun is strongest at mid-day. If possible, limit your outdoors activities to before 10am or after 4pm.
- Take regular breaks to reapply sunscreen, whether nipping indoors or reapplying on the chair lift.