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Should You Wear Sunscreen in Winter?

Woman wearing ski googles smiling on snow covered mountain

using sunscreen in winter protects your skin against sun damage

Every summer we are told to slip, slap and slop on plenty of sunscreen. Beachgoers coated in white, greasy sunscreen is a common sight. Yet in winter the half used sunscreen bottle gets shoved to the back of the bathroom cupboard or forgotten about at the bottom of your beach bag. So should we be wearing sunscreen in winter? The answer quite simply is yes! Read on to find out why.

When the UV index is forecast to reach 3 or above, it is recommended that sunscreen in NZ is applied every day. While in summer the UV index can exceed 13, it is still common for the UV index to be higher than 3 even in the middle of winter. I checked the UV index the day that I wrote this blog post and even on a cloudy day in August, the UV index reached 4 at midday.

Graph showing UV index for Auckland

Check the daily UV index in your region here

Why wearing sunscreen in winter is important

Skin cancers such as melanoma are predominantly caused by over-exposure to the sun’s UV radiation. Over-exposure can occur during every day activities (such as shopping, putting out the recycling, dropping the kids to school and walking the dog) during which time exposed to the sun's rays adds up over time. Learn more about sunscreen and ageing.

Will sunscreen stop me from getting burnt while skiing?

That depends! UV exposure at high elevations is significantly greater than at sea level, plus the sun's rays reflect off the snow and back onto your skin almost doubling the sun's intensity. Even the strongest sunscreen is not enough to adequately protect your skin at high altitudes in the snow and we highly recommend wearing a hat, goggles, a ski mask and reapplying sunscreen on exposed areas at least every 2 hours.

The best sunscreen SPF for winter

According to the Cancer Council SPF50+ filters out 98% of UVB radiation, while SPF30 blocks out 96.7% of UVB. What about SPF15? Well, according to Melanoma New Zealand, “sunscreen" means sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more and compliant with Australian/New Zealand Sunscreen Standard AS/NZS 2604:2012 (find out more about our new sunscreen regulations in New Zealand).  SPF15 does not provide adequate protection for New Zealand, even in winter.

How to apply Seasick Sunscreen in winter

Our sunscreens contain zero water meaning they are more like a balm and a little goes a really long way. In winter, our sunscreen will be firmer than in summer when the heat softens it. We recommend warming a pea-sized blog of sunscreen in your palm before smoothing over your skin. It's easy to apply and feels great. Our sunscreen is safe for babies and children and can applied daily.

Browse our natural sunscreen range

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