Year-round sun protection is essential for all skin types! Dr. Kaveri Karhade, a board-certified medical and cosmetic dermatologist in the SF Bay area, explains why.
I always ask my patients if they wear sunscreen, and am surprised when the response is “yes, when I go to the beach.” Most people know the importance of wearing sunscreen and other methods of sun protection on hot sunny days. But it’s also important to protect yourself from the sun every day of the year- rain or shine, hot or cold, snowy or sunny.
The reason is that the negative effects from sun exposure, such as increased risk of skin cancer and signs of aging skin (wrinkles, sallowness, broken blood vessels), are cumulative. That means the 10 minutes you spend walking from your office to your parked car mid-day for lunch adds up over the years. Even though the intensity of UV light is lower in the winter months, it still contributes to the overall UV exposure your skin gets.
During the 2020 pandemic, even though many people have been spending more time indoors, I STILL recommend daily sunscreen! Some types of UV can go through windows and- you guessed it- contribute to your overall lifetime UV exposure.
I hear the vitamin D argument all the time- patients tell me that they need sun exposure for vitamin D. While this is important and true, the reality is that approximately 15 minutes of sun exposure to the surface area of one forearm every day is enough to give you the vitamin D you need. More sun exposure beyond that does not actually lead to continually increasing vitamin D levels. Of course, diet and supplements are another good way to get your vitamin D.
The key point? It’s important to protect your skin from UV exposure. I recommend year-round application of sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher to the face and other directly exposed parts of the body. Other sun protection options include wearing UPF 50 clothing and accessories such as scarves for the chest, long-sleeve shirts to cover the arms, and wide-brim hats for the scalp and face. See below for some of my favorite options for sunscreen.
Take it from a dermatologist who spends her day treating skin cancer and reversing signs of aging using lasers and injectables- the easiest most affordable way to protect your skin in the long-term is year-round sun protection!
Dr. Karhade’s Sunscreen Recommendations: