Beauty resolutions: wear sunscreen every day, even in winter

You need to wear sunscreen in the winter, too!
Photo © Copyright RichTea and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Since January is here, I thought it would be good to highlight some of the health & beauty resolutions I’m making in 2010! Today’s resolution: “I will wear sunscreen every day!”

Ready for a fact check? Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, with over one million new cases diagnosed every year. (Find more facts about skin cancer from The Skin Cancer Foundation.) So, as you’re going through your list of beauty resolutions for 2010, you might want to highlight “wear sunscreen”.

Why? Sunscreen helps to prevent the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays from reaching your skin. The two types of rays—UVA and UVB—affect the skin in different ways, and a good sunscreen will protect you from both. While UVB rays typically cause you to burn, UVA rays penetrate the skin more deeply, accelerating the aging process and increasing your risk of developing skin cancer.

That’s where the real kicker lies. While many people are fairly regular, even religious about applying sunscreen in the summer when frolicking outdoors or at the beach, they don’t wear sunscreen on partly cloudy days, or in the wintertime, when the effects of the sun aren’t as noticeable. However, even when the weather turns cool and cloudy, the sun’s UVA rays still reach your skin, even if you don’t show any sign of developing a tan or a sunburn. (Read more about sunscreen here.)

So, gals, now you know why you need to wear sunscreen year-round. But what about the how? The easiest way to ensure daily sunscreen use is to buy a body lotion with SPF 15-30 (or higher!) for daily use. (Check out this one from Alba Botanica.) Remember that sunscreen is generally effective for only two hours, so if you’ll be in the sun for a prolonged period of time, it’s a good idea to pack something a little more heavy-duty, and reapply often (especially if you’re prone to burning, like I am).

Remember also that while cosmetics with built-in SPF are a great help, they’re not enough on their own. Generally, to get the full amount of SPF labeled on the package, you’d have to glop on about a teaspoon of your chosen foundation or powder—yuck! Instead, opt for a facial moisturizer with SPF 30 or higher. A good one will feel weightless under your makeup and won’t leave you greasy.

Finally, while we’re on the subject of sun and sunscreen, why not make a Beauty Resolution to quash the tanning habit for good? Whether outdoors or at an indoor salon, tanning is dangerous and accelerates the aging process, causing wrinkles, sagging, and spots. In fact, studies no suggest that indoor tanning is even more damaging to your skin that regular sun exposure, thanks to increased levels of UVA rays in new tanning lamps. (Skincancer.org has a host of articles and info on tanning and tanning beds here.)

Now that you’re ready to commit to sunscreen, it’s time to go shopping! Because I don’t believe in animal testing, I choose not to recommend products unless they are cruelty-free. I do recommend checking out Caring Consumer, which has a great product guide to help you locate sunscreen, sunless tanning lotion, and other sun-care products, all of which are cruelty-free.

So remember: wear sunscreen daily, even on cloudy winter days! Your future self will thank you!