When the sun comes out, it’s only natural to reach for the SPF. Of course, protecting your skin from the sun shouldn’t be just a summertime habit. After all, harmful ultraviolet rays — the ones responsible for skin cancer, sunburns, and premature aging — don’t go away just because it’s cold or cloudy outside, the American Academy of Dermatology notes.
“UV rays can harm our skin during any season and any type of weather,” says Sourab Choudhury, DO, a board-certified dermatologist and the chief medical officer at Dermatology Specialists in New York City. “The temperature outside doesn’t matter from a UV perspective. The sun’s rays can shine just as powerfully on a cold day as they might during the summer.”
Dr. Choudhury says that even short and intense exposure to sun, such on a walk down the street or during a car ride on a sunny day, can cause sun damage. “Apply sunscreen generously and apply it often, even when it’s cloudy,” he says. And if possible, give yourself at least half an hour after applying your sunscreen before you leave your home — this will help give your sunscreen time to “bind” to your skin before you’re exposed to the sun, per the Skin Cancer Foundation.