Should I Wear SPF in the Winter? Tips for Healthy Winter Skin

By Deana D.| Last updated on December 14, 2023
spf in the winter
⏱️ 5 min read

The arrival of winter can lure us all into a false sense of security when it comes to skincare. With the sun seemingly less intense and the temperatures dropping, it’s easy to believe that it’s time for our favorite sunscreen to take a seasonal vacation.

But the truth is that your skin still needs protection from those wintertime UV rays. 

So, grab a warm beverage, cozy up, and let’s talk about how to best protect your skin even when it’s cold outside!

What Does SPF Do, Exactly?

In short, it protects your skin from the sun’s UV rays.

SPF, or Sun Protection Factor, is a measure of how effectively a sunscreen can do that. It primarily safeguards your skin by absorbing and reflecting UV radiation.

The SPF number on your sunscreen indicates its level of protection. For example, SPF 30 filters out approximately 97% of UVB rays, while SPF 50 provides around 98% protection.

By using SPF, you’re not only preventing sunburn but also minimizing the risk of premature skin aging, sunspots, and even skin cancer.

In essence, SPF is your defense against the sun’s potential harm – no matter the season.

woman applying spf face creamImage source: Freepik

Do You Need Sunscreen in Winter?

The short answer is yes, you do.

Although the sun might not feel as intense as during the summer months, harmful UV rays are still present, even on overcast days. These rays can cause all the negative effects we talked about in the previous section, no matter how cold or cloudy it is outside.

This means that it’s essential to incorporate sunscreen into your winter skincare routine, just as you would in the summer, especially if you plan on spending lots of time outdoors in the snow.

Why You Still Need to Wear an SPF for Winter

The sun emits two types of harmful ultraviolet rays – UVA and UVB. UVB rays are the ones responsible for causing sunburn, which we often associate with summer.

However, UVA rays are known as the “aging” rays and are present throughout the year and can penetrate clouds and even glass. They are known for causing long-term skin damage, such as wrinkles, fine lines, and dark spots.

Snow and ice can act as a natural reflector, intensifying UV radiation exposure. So, when you’re out skiing, snowboarding, or even just going for a winter walk, you’re still at risk of UV damage.

By applying sunscreen with broad-spectrum protection, you’re effectively shielding your skin from these harmful rays and reducing the risks associated with UV exposure. Winter SPF is your secret weapon for maintaining a healthy, youthful complexion during the colder months!

woman snowboarder wearing spfImage source: Freepik 

When to Apply Your Winter SPF

The best time to apply an SPF (regardless of the weather outside) is in the morning as part of your daily skincare routine.

Start by cleansing your face, then apply a moisturizer to keep your skin hydrated, followed by your sunscreen. It should be the last step in your routine.

If this doesn’t work for you, remember that it’s crucial to apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before heading outside to allow it to fully absorb into your skin.

Don’t forget to cover all exposed areas, including your face, neck, ears, and the backs of your hands, as these are commonly overlooked spots.

The Best SPF Essentials on Amazon

After hopefully convincing you that you definitely should wear SPF in the winter, we’re going to help you find the best one! We looked through Amazon to find different kinds of sunscreen for all skin types, so make sure you check them out below!

The Overall Best Sunscreen for Winter: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel

The reason we put this Neutrogena gel at the very top of our list is because it is a UVA/UVB water-resistant solution that hydrates without the greasy feel.

This daily essential provides superior sun protection, layers invisibly under makeup, and has great reviews, making it a must-have in your skincare routine for healthy, hydrated skin.

The Best SPF for Sensitive Skin: EltaMD UV Clear Daily Face Sunscreen

If you have sensitive skin, this EltaMD sunscreen is a great choice for you. It has a non-comedogenic formula and is free of heavy moisturizers.

With SPF 46 and zinc oxide, it offers UVA and UVB protection while soothing skin, making it an ideal choice for those with skin concerns like rosacea.

The Best Moisturizing SPF: CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30

Experts recommend this sunscreen as an excellent moisturizing yet budget-friendly choice. Packed with ceramides and hyaluronic acid, it helps the skin barrier and locks in moisture.

It’s also very lightweight, meaning that it won’t leave you with that greasy or sticky sensation.

The Best SPF for Lips: Aquaphor Lip Repair Lip Balm with Sunscreen

A trusted favorite, the Aquaphor lip SPF is highly effective in combating dry and flaky lips.

Notably budget-friendly, this lip repair balm includes nourishing vitamins, shea butter, and a broad-spectrum SPF 30, making it an excellent choice for protecting and nourishing your lips during the harsh winter season.

Check out these SPF lip balm product suggestions if you are looking for more recommendations.

So, Should I Wear SPF In the Winter?

The winter season is no excuse to skip sunscreen.

Even when the sun’s intensity might feel lower, harmful UV rays are still out there, capable of causing sunburn, skin aging, and other negative effects. They are even intensified by reflective elements such as snow or ice, so you really shouldn’t skip it if you plan on being out and about all day.

So, regardless of the weather outside, a quality SPF should be a part of your daily skincare routine.

Cover Image Source: Freepik



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