The Obvious (& Not-So-Obvious) Reasons You Need Sunblock This Winter

The battle against parched winter air is real. Really real. It necessitates deeper hydration, thicker emollients, and grandma-style creams, requiring us to lather up. When it comes to wearing sunscreen in the colder months, though, we’re still (admittedly) a little confused.


But here’s the truth: While we might not see the sun on cold, gray days, UVA/UVB rays are still very much present, lingering in the clouds and just waiting to sink their teeth into our skin. Dr. Loretta Ciraldo MD FAAD, a Miami-based dermatologist, confirmed that “UVA, the spectrum responsible for hyperpigmentation and aging, does not lessen much in the winter.” (If you suffer from hyperpigmentation or melasma, it was likely caused by the aforementioned UV rays). The takeaway? Sunscreen should still be applied in the winter — especially if you’re pregnant, spending time outside, or driving for an extended period of time.


You know the mantra ‘reduce, reuse, recycle?’ The same premise applies to your skin, and reducing sun exposure is the single most important thing you can do. But that’s not where it ends: Ciraldo clued me into a much more troubling issue: New studies show it’s important to protect ourselves from the light of digital devices.


“The blue light that screens emit — also called HEV — accounts for pigmentation and redness, and is more intense and longer lasting than UVA,” says Ciraldo.

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While HEV is a superlight that most typical sunscreens cannot yet protect against, there are products slated for release in 2019 that will help. In the meantime, I’ve been diving headfirst into the new Supergoop! Mineral Matte Screen, which has full UV protection and butterfly bush extract that helps protect against blue light. And if you’re someone who’s repulsed by the whiteness of most mineral sunscreens, this tinted formula will blend naturally into your skin tone. The same consistency of a primer, it helps mattify and set makeup — just use as the last step of your routine, rain or shine.


If you’re asking yourself what your dermatologist might say, chances are they would recommend Elta MD. A number one in our book, Elta MD is safe for all skin types and a general crowd pleaser. The EltaMD UV Replenish Broad-Spectrum SPF 44, specifically, is chemical-free, infused with hyaluronic acid, and is newly formulated to protect against both UV and HEV.


So yes, you should be wearing sunscreen every day this winter. But it’s also worth investing in a serum like Paula’s Choice RESIST Omega+ Complex, which is designed to fortify against environmental damage. Come sundown, incorporate an antioxidant moisturizer (antioxidants combat free radicals that are the catalysts to damage in the first place) and a retinol as well to encourage cell turnover and regenerate from past sun exposure.


This might feel like an impossible task, but after a long day of sitting in front of your computer screen, shut that shit off. Cut back on blue light with the new iPhone Screen Time feature. Say goodnight to Instagram. Protect yourself on all accounts. 

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