Why You Need Sun Protection In Winter

If you thought that the end of summer means you can throw away your sunscreen bottles, think again. Whenever UV levels are a 3 or above, our skin needs protection from both UVB and UVA rays. UV levels are not determined by temperature, which means that even on a cold winter’s day, they can reach extreme levels.

According to the Cancer Council’s most recent National Sun Survey, 1 in 2 Aussie sunburns occur during everyday activities. This confirms that you are just as likely to get irreversible sun damage on your way to work, out walking the dog or grabbing a latte, as you are at the beach. We live in one of the harshest climates in the world, so it is crucial that we protect ourselves accordingly.

“The sun can be responsible for up to 80% of skin ageing,” says Tracey Beeby, Ultraceuticals Skin Expert and Head Trainer. Whenever UV levels are a 3 or above, your skin is vulnerable to fine lines and wrinkles caused by sun damage.

Aside from premature aging, the consequences of overexposing ourselves to UV rays are no joke. “Around two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the age of 70,” says Professor Sanchia Aranda, CEO of Cancer Council Australia.

How can we make sure we‘re protected everyday? Here is our guide to ensuring your skin is protected from the city, to the coastline.

Apply sunscreen whenever UV levels are 3 or above
The Cancer Council Australia’s Sun Smart app is a fantastic resource, which lets you know exactly when you need to apply sun protection in your local area. You can set personalized sun protection alerts and also track your UV exposure to ensure you are getting enough vitamin D. Generally, you want to avoid being unprotected between 10am – 2pm.

Know how much you need to apply
If you are going outdoors for longer than 10 minutes you should apply adequate sunscreen to any exposed skin areas. “You need to apply at least 5ml (or 1 teaspoon) of sunscreen per major body part – i.e. one teaspoon for each arm – about 35ml in total,” says Professor Aranda.

You MUST re-apply your sunscreen
It’s common knowledge to re-apply sunscreen after sweating, exercising, swimming or towel drying, but for everyday use it’s often thought that a single application in the morning is enough to keep you covered. This is adequate if you are staying indoors, however if you plan on going outside and it’s been longer than two hours since your first application, you will need to re-apply.

Choose the right sunscreen
Sunscreens work by either physically blocking UV rays away from the skin, or through chemicals that absorb UV radiation. Both types are heavily regulated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and are safe to use on a daily basis. When choosing a sunscreen that’s right for you, it’s best to choose one that feels good on your skin so that you’re more likely to apply it often. Make sure it is broad spectrum and offers at least an SPF of 30+.

Written by Sophie Howe.