Avoid UV & Seek Shade SunAWARE

Can You Get Sunburned Through a Window?

It’s no secret that exposure to the sun when outdoors for an extended period of time can cause damage to and sunburn your skin. But can you get sun damage through windows? The answer may surprise you. 

Practicing sun safety is essential for avoiding sunburn and minimizing your risk of developing wrinkles and, more seriously, skin cancer. There are many myths surrounding whether or not you can get sunburned through windows or if you can tan through a window. While it may feel like you are protected from the sun when behind windows indoors or in a car, this is not the whole story. 

Can You Get Sun Damage Through Windows?

The answer to this question comes down to whether or not UV light can go through glass. It depends on the type of glass the window is made of, and not all windows are the same when it comes to UV protection. Ultraviolet Rays are light waves from the sun and can reach us in sneaky ways. We need to worry about two types of UV rays: UVA and UVB rays, because they can reach the earth.

  • UVA Rays: longer wavelength rays that are less intense but penetrate deep into the skin and cause tanning. UVA rays are responsible for skin aging and wrinkles due to the fact that they break down collagen fibers, which help with skin strength and elasticity. UVA rays can contribute to skin cancer.
  • UVB Rays: shorter wavelength rays that penetrate only the superficial layers of the skin. UVB rays are more intense and harmful to the skin’s DNA and are responsible for sunburn. This type of light ray also stimulates the body to produce vitamin D and is believed to cause a higher percentage of skin cancer.
Visual representation of the question can UV go through glass

Can You Get a Tan Through a Window?

Since ultraviolet rays do pass through glass, most commonly the UVA rays, there is a chance that you can get a suntan through a window. It will, of course, depend on the length of exposure, but since UVA rays are not blocked by most glass, you may get sun damage and a slight tan. However, it is not likely that you can get sunburned through a window due to the UVB protection present in most windows.

sun shining through a car window

Can You Get Sunburned Through a Car Window?

Do car windows block UV? Not all car windows are equally protective, and this is due to legal reasons. Your car’s windshield is required to offer more protection to prevent the glass from shattering in case of an accident. 

This extra protection also means better UV filtering. Your car’s windshield is treated against the sun’s UVA and UVB rays, while the rest of your car’s windows only filter against UVB rays. 

As we know, UVA rays cause damage to your skin at a deeper level. Since your windshield only filters out UVA rays, you will still get UVA exposure from the other windows in your car. You might not get a sunburn in your car, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t getting skin damage. 

  • UV rays can go through car windows, but not all UV rays can
  • Your car’s windshield offers the best protection against UV rays (UVA and UVB)
  • UVA rays can still penetrate the other windows in your car, causing skin damage and aging
  • Since UVB rays are filtered by all car windows, it is unlikely that you can get burned through a car window

Sun Protective Solutions

While sun protection may not be at the top of your list when preparing for long road trips in the car, there are a few simple steps you can take to mitigate skin damage from the sun

  • UPF Clothing: arguably the easiest way to reduce skin damage is to wear UPF clothing daily 
  • UVA protective film: extra tints or films can be added to your car windows to block out those UVA ray
  • Sunscreen: incorporating a daily sunscreen into your routine can go a long way in preventing sun damage, especially those parts of your body that are most often exposed like your face, hands, and arms
sun through window shining on a woman reading

Can You Get Sunburned Through Other Windows? 

What about other windows – can you tan through a house window? Can you get sunburned through a window at home? Are you inadvertently getting sun exposure at work

We know that UV rays can go through glass, but it depends on the type of glass.

Standard construction windows in your home or office will offer good protection against UVB rays, so it’s unlikely that you will get sunburn through a window. Most windows do not offer protection against UVA rays, although if your windows are newer there’s a chance that the UVA protection is better. Solar window screens and treatments are a good option for cutting down harmful UV rays from the sun.

  • Windows at your home or office may block some, but not all of the sun’s UV rays. 
  • While it’s not likely that you’ll develop a sunburn through a window, you may still be getting sun damage from UVA rays.
  • Window screens or blinds can help reduce the UV rays getting through.

Sun Protective Solutions

It can seem nearly impossible to avoid sunburn and other types of skin damage from the sun, but a few quick adjustments you can make in your everyday life will significantly impact your overall skin health. 

  • UPF Clothing: the best barrier option for your skin to prevent damage and easy to incorporate into your day-to-day
  • Sunscreen: reduce UV exposure to your skin by wearing sunscreen daily
  • Sunglasses: wear polarized sunglasses year-round to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays
Women wearing sun protective clothing

Learn More About Coolibar’s UPF 50+ Clothing

Even though there’s only a small chance that you can get a sunburn inside, that doesn’t mean you aren’t still getting sun damage. UVA rays that are most likely to get through your car windows or windows at home are linked to skin damage, aging, and even skin cancers. You may feel a sense of protection from that layer of glass in your car window, but the only way to ensure you are protected is to incorporate sunscreen and UPF clothing into your daily routine. 

Sun protection is serious business. At Coolibar, we stop at nothing to develop the most technical and elegant sun protection you wear. The world leader in UPF 50+ fabric technology. Discover more sun tips on our blog, and shop our latest UPF 50+ clothing.

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