If in the collective unconscious, protect your skin from the sun’s rays is a well-established summer reflex (or almost), what about in winter? Should, yes or no, apply Solar cream when the star that warms us becomes more timid and the temperatures drop drastically? Marie Avril, responsible for scientific communication and training at Novexpertsheds light on this question that comes up every year.
A different sun according to the seasons
To begin with, it is good to take an interest in solar radiation and the various ultraviolet rays. UVA radiation, considered the most dangerous, can penetrate the different layers of the epidermis and cause long-term cell damage, ranging from skin aging to skin cancer. Unlike UVB – responsible for Sun burn –, no visible symptom warns against their harmful action. And to protect yourself, it is imperative to adopt the right gestures and protect yourself with sunscreen. In winter too, even if the radiation is weaker. It is true that “UVB rays are rarer in winter,” explains the expert. This is due to the tilt of the earth at this time. Of course, it all depends on where you are on the planet. But we know that beyond 35 degrees latitude, we no longer receive UVB in winter. So if we take the case of France – and more specifically of Paris which is located at 48° –, we hardly receive any UVB in winter”. The risk of sunburn is then eliminated. On the other hand, UVA rays are still present. It is therefore essential to continue to protect yourself against these harmful rays.
The benefit/risk balance
If, in winter, we therefore continue to protect ourselves from the sun’s rays, it is essential to adapt our consumption. Yes, there is no question of slathering on excessive sunscreen, “the application must be mastered, explains Marie Avril. It is good to take into account the percentage risk-benefit”. And this is where the sun filters contained in the formulas of our protections come into play.
“There are two kinds of sun filters, chemical and mineral,” explains the pro. The former have the benefit of absorbing UV rays. However, they penetrate the skin very (even too) quickly, which does not guarantee protection over time. They are also suspected for the most part of being allergenic and endocrine disruptors, in other words, they can upset the hormonal system if they are used too often. The second (zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) act as a barrier to UV rays and allow them to be reflected. However, they come in the form of nanoparticles that can cross all the barriers of our body. For the time being, they have not yet been shown to be harmless”.
That’s why it’s good to weigh the pros and cons before using our sunscreen. The goal is not to abuse it. It will be necessary, even essential, in certain situations. On the other hand, “we cannot consider it as a treatment that takes part in our daily beauty routine”. It’s all in the right measure.
In what situations should you apply sunscreen in winter?
The importance of sunscreen in the mountains
During a stay in the mountains, it is good to know that you are exposed to three main factors requiring the use of sunscreen. The altitude, on the one hand. Indeed, “every 300 meters, the energy of UV rays increases by + 4%, explains the expert. In other words, if you climb 3000m, the power of UV increases by 40%”. Second factor (and we think about it much less), reverberation. However, you should know that when faced with certain surfaces, especially the whitest ones (snow in the line of sight), “85% of the sun’s rays will come back to us indirectly by reflection”. Even in the shade, we are not really protected. The third is linked to external factors such as low temperatures or the wind which delay the sensations of overheating, in other words, we do not realize that the skin is burning.
All three combined, these factors have a real impact on our skin. This is why it is essential to apply sunscreen with an SPF 50 index to areas not covered by our clothes and accessories: hands, neck and face (not forgetting the nose, ears and lips).
Read also: Which sun protection to choose when skiing?
And in town, then?
Many of us ask ourselves the question of the use of sunscreen in the city. Again, it all depends on your daily activities in winter. Here are three scenarios.
- I go to my place of work by public transport and stay indoors all day.
“If your job is indoors; whether your journeys involve metro, train or car; and your walking time is less than 20 minutes outdoors, you don’t need sunscreen,” according to the expert.
Another factor to consider is the location of your office. Is it near a window? Are you exposed to UV rays for several hours a day? “In this case, the use of sunscreen is recommended, especially if the glass does not filter UV”.
- I work in the office but like to take a lunch break in the sun.
“If you work in an office but your lunch breaks are outside, you have to think about sunscreen. Remember that between noon and 4 p.m., these are the most dangerous hours, even in winter. Good gestures then? Apply your SPF 30 sun protection to exposed areas, 10 to 15 minutes before going out. In this case, there is no need to apply sunscreen in the bathroom in the morning, it will no longer be effective at noon.
Can I put sunscreen on top of my makeup? “Yes, sunscreens will act the same way,” explains the expert. In this case, we can promote mists or solar sticks for easier application.
And if I prefer day creams with SPF ? “I do not recommend the use of these products which, on the one hand, contain a lower SPF than in sunscreens and, on the other hand, will no longer be effective during lunch if applied during our routine. morning,” explains the pro. Often imagined as an alternative solution when the sun’s rays are less, it has its limits. The expert specifies: “in terms of sun protection, it’s all or nothing. We put the right amount at the right time. There is no middle ground or room for “just in case”.
- I work most of the day outdoors.
If you are part of the team of outdoor workers (from the building trades to the landscaping or surveying trades, etc.), it is essential not to neglect sunscreen, even if UVB rays are lower. Because let’s not forget that UVA rays are present. Moreover, even if the cloud cover is significant, sunscreen is applied to areas not protected by clothing.
The right dose of cream to apply in winter
Regarding the right dose, “there is no really established and consensual answer within the scientific community, explains the expert. Tests for protection factors are done with 2mg of cream per cm2 of skin, but that’s huge and nobody really sticks to it”. For this, she mentions an easy-to-remember alternative method: “make a strip of cream on the index finger (from the end of the index finger to reach the palm) and apply this amount of cream to each area of the body. The body being divided into 11 areas: 1. Face, head and neck 2. Left arm 3. Right arm 4. Upper back 5. Lower back 6. Upper torso 7. Lower torso 8. Upper right leg and knee 9. Upper left leg and knee 10. Lower right leg and foot 11. Lower left leg and foot”. In winter therefore, since we are covered by our clothes, we apply an index of cream to the area of the face, head and neck and an index of cream to both hands. The application is renewed regularly, every two hours at least.