It’s one of the most mundane, ‘un-fun’ beauty products there is. But speak to any skin expert and they’ll all tell you, over all the amazing makeup and advanced skin care out there, sunscreen is the number one beauty product that makes the biggest difference to maintaining great skin, now and over time.
But in winter we’re indoors, rugged up in cosy layers and given the time the sun sets, our daylight hours are much shorter. Surely that means it’s okay to forgo SPF too?
While certain parts of the ultraviolet light from the sun rays isn’t quite as intense as it is in summer, much of the dangerous stuff is still there, and it can impact your skin, even when it’s cloudy, and even through windows.
The damaging light that can cause changes to our skin – some aesthetic and in the case of skin-cancer, some life threatening – is made up of UVA and UVB.
What are UVA and UVB rays?
UVB rays that are the main cause of redness and sunburn, are the strongest in the summer, but they can still damage skin year round. They can also be particularly strong at high altitudes, where they can reflect off of snow. These type of rays are understood to be responsible for most skin cancers, including melanoma.
However UVA rays, that penetrate skin much deeper and are to blame for premature aging, pigmentation, worsening of wrinkles and collagen and elastin depletion, are still present year round. They can penetrate through clouds and fog and even windows. So if you’re driving a lot or your desk is near a window, you’re still receiving UV exposure. UVA rays also play a role in skin cancer formation.
The temperature also does not affect UV radiation levels so the risk can be just as high on a cool or even cold day as it is on a hot one.
A good way to remember is that UVA is for ‘Aging’, UVB is for ‘Burning’, but regardless, we always need to protect our skin with an SPF with broad spectrum protection that will offer effective defence from both.
Best SPFs to wear in winter
So now you know why you should be wearing SPF year-round, what are some good ones to use during winter?
Given much of your skin is well covered when it’s cold and your skin demands are different given the air is dryer, a gentle, hydrating product with high SPF protection that works well on its own and under makeup is a good bet.
Also useful? One you can quickly apply to the backs of your hands – likely to be the only other area exposed for much of the winter months.
Our picks of the bunch?
Ultra Violette Supreme Screen Hydrating Facial Sunscreen SPF 50+, $65
A winner that sinks in quickly, leaves skin fresh and glowy, not greasy, and works well under makeup.
La Roche-Posay Anthelios Invisible Fluid Facial Sunscreen, $34.99
An ultra-light texture that feels like nothing on skin and won’t leave a white cast. Also great under makeup.
YSL Pure Shots Airthin UV Defender, $99
The lightest formula that feels just like skincare.
Murad City Skin Broad Spectrum SPF 50, $105
A mineral formula that protects from both UV light and blue light from screens that is thought to also have an impact on the health and appearance of our skin.
Mecca Cosmetica To Save Face SPF50+ Superscreen Oxybenzone Free Formula, $47
It’s hard to find a true matte formula but this popular SPF leaves skin less shiny than other options and it doesn’t contain oxybenzone, thought to be harmful to coral reefs.
Bondi Sands Fragrance Free Sunscreen Lotion SPF50+, $17.99
A generous size tube that spreads really well and is great for body as well as your face, so make sure you get it on your neck, ears and hands too!