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Why You Should Use SPF Year-Round

December 5, 2023

Wearing sunscreen year-round is so important even when it is cold and overcast outside. Just because it is cold, there is no sun, and you are not getting an active tan does not mean the UVA rays are not damaging. Let’s break down the importance of wearing SPF year-round!

By: Mackenzie, Licensed Esthetician

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The Two Types of UV Rays SPF Protects Against

There are two big components of the rays that come from the sun. First kind is Ultraviolet-B (UVB) which causes sunburns. The second is Ultraviolet-A (UVA) which can cause photo aging or wrinkling in the skin. During the winter time is when UVA is strong. UVA penetrates through thick clouds. It can also penetrate through glass windows, whether that be in your car or home.

UVA rays can lead to premature aging and in more serious circumstances contribute to the development of skin cancer. Also, keep in mind that sunlight is reflective – in the summer months, rays will reflect off water and sand. The sun’s rays can damage skin year-round. UV rays from the sun are present all year, not just during summer. In fact, snow, water, and sand all reflect these rays, making them even stronger during winter. As a result, your skin faces sun damage risk no matter what the season.

Winter sun can still cause sunburn. Many mistakenly believe winter sun cannot cause burns because temperatures are lower. But UV exposure does not depend on the air temperature. Your skin can still burn in the winter because the UV index does not correlate to the actual temperature. The sun’s rays have the same intensity all year. With less melanin production, winter sunburns can occur faster too. Don’t let cooler weather make you skip the SPF.

Photo of a female esthetician spraying SPF on her arm

Things to consider When Using SPF Year-Round

Sun Protection Factor

Also known as SPF, this will measure how much protection you have against the sun and in getting a sunburn. The higher the SPF the more protection you will have against the rays. That being said, everyone’s skin is different and some drugstore sunscreens will claim higher protection than they actually provide.

The number on the bottle isn’t always going to be your only indicator for how protective an SPF product is. This is why it’s important to do the research and really look into the brands of skincare you are buying. Skincare is an investment after all!

Broad Spectrum and Mineral Coverage

I always suggest using a broad-spectrum sunscreen or a mineral sunscreen. Broad Spectrum sunscreen protects against both UVB and UVA rays. If sunscreens do not have “Broad Spectrum” on the label it is hard to determine how will it will protect against UVA rays. Same goes for mineral sunscreen. This type of sunscreen contains zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These are small particles that sit on top of the skins surface and will physically prevent UV rays from penetrating the skin. 

Daily SPF helps reverse existing damage. Sun protection can also undo some existing sun damage when used consistently. SPF helps prevent further discoloration and wrinkles, while ingredients like vitamin C help rebuild collagen and fade dark spots. With religious use, SPF applied under moisturizer sinks in well and makes skin appear smoother, brighter, and more even-toned over time.

The proper amount is key for full protection. Many people don’t apply nearly enough sunscreen. It’s crucial to reapply every 2 hours if outdoors. Under-applying SPF severely lowers the protection level. Be generous with the amount to get the full blocking effects.

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When you go to question whether or not you need sunscreen in your everyday skin care routine even in the cold months, the answer is always a yes! 

Check out one of our providers, Kristin, talking more about the importance of SPF. Additionally, why we specifically love SkinBetter Science’s line of sun-protecting products! And if you need help finding the right SPF year-round for your own unique skin type, schedule a free consultation with one of our providers here at Atalo Aesthetics in Cincinnati, Ohio! We’d be happy to help set you on the right path.