This winter, as you head outside for your favorite winter activities or start planning a sunny vacation getaway, keep these common winter sun protection myths in mind.
Myth #1 – I don’t need sun protection in the winter.
FALSE. The intensity of UV rays varies with the changing seasons and is strongest during the summer months. However, indirect or reflected rays add to the amount of UV exposure received. These rays “bounce” from surfaces such as snow, sand, water, concrete and buildings and can still cause burns—especially during winter activities like skiing.
Myth #2 – I need to tan to ensure healthy amounts of Vitamin D.
FALSE. Tanning is not necessary to achieve vitamin D requirements. Studies show that a few minutes of exposure to the sun, two or three times a week is sufficient. Vitamin D supplements are available and as always, speak to a doctor if you are concerned.
Myth #3 – Getting a “base tan” before heading out on a sunny winter vacation, will minimize the risk of sunburn or sun damage.
FALSE. All tans are damage to the skin. What is called a “base” tan would equal an SPF of about 2, which is so low it is counterproductive. You may prevent burning, but you have increased your chances of getting skin cancer.
Myth #4 – You can’t get sunburn on a cloudy winter day.
FALSE. Cloud cover reduces UV radiation levels, but not completely. Even on a winter day with full cloud cover, exposed skin can burn.
Myth #5 – SPF ratings measure sun protective clothing.
FALSE. UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) is the correct rating for clothing. UPF is a similar concept to SPF for sunscreens. UPF is the ratio of how much UV radiation passes through a fabric. If a garment isn’t UPF rated, then it isn’t guaranteed sun protection.
Make a healthy habit of using sunblock, sun protective clothing and sunglasses all year long. Be Safe. Be SunAWARE.