Should You Wear Sunscreen in the Winter? Benefits & 3 Biggest Myths Debunked

Written by: Allison Taylor

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Time to read: 10 min

The value of sunscreen goes beyond beach vacations and summer picnics. 

Despite the common myth, your skin requires protection from the sun's ultraviolet rays every day, regardless of the season or weather. 

Sunscreen is your key to year-round skin health - not just in the summer. Yes, even on those cold winter days. 

It only takes 10 seconds every morning to apply – your skin will thank you. In this article, we’ll debunk common sunscreen myths and outline the benefits of wearing sunscreen in the winter.

Biggest Sunscreen Myths

Myth #1: "The Sun Isn’t as Strong in Winter.”

VerdictUsing sunscreen is just as important in winter as in summer for every skin type and tone.

Explanation: Despite common beliefs, just because it’s colder doesn’t mean that the sun is less strong. Temperature is not correlated to UV levels. UVA rays causing skin aging and cancer remain consistent year-round.

Furthermore, winter conditions like cold winds and low humidity dry the skin, and snow reflects about 80% of UV rays, nearly doubling exposure. High altitude also increases UV exposure by 10-12% per 1000 meters. Dry, weakened skin, increased reflection, and doubled UV exposure greatly raise the risk of sunburn and skin damage. 

Myth #2: “You Don’t Need Sunscreen if It’s Cloudy."

Verdict: Don't be fooled by a cool, overcast day - these clouds are not protecting you from the sun. It is crucial to apply sunscreen even on cloudy days.

Explanation: Even without the bright glare of a sunny day, you are still at risk of developing skin cancer and other forms of skin damage.

Up to 80% of the sun's harmful UV rays are still able to penetrate through the clouds, causing damage and increasing the risk of skin cancer. Additionally, some types of clouds can even reflect UV rays, amplifying their effects on our skin. Applying sunscreen daily, regardless of the weather, will help you avoid prematurely saggy skin, wrinkles, sun spots, and most importantly, skin cancer.

Myth #3: “One Application Gives All Day Protection.”

VerdictDon’t leave sunscreen at home. A single application is not enough for all-day defense.

ExplanationSunscreen's effectiveness diminishes over time, especially through sweating, swimming, and other environmental factors. 

After applying your sunscreen in the morning, take it with you to go. Even waterproof sunscreen needs reapplication. To maintain maximum protection, reapply sunscreen every two hours. Apply generously to all exposed skin, including often missed areas like the neck, ears, and hands 15 minutes before direct sun exposure.

The Best Sunscreen for Winter Protection

The best sunscreens for winter are the ones that feel so good on your skin, that you’ll want to wear them daily. Winter can also be harsh and demanding on the skin, leaving it chapped and flaky. To effectively defend against premature aging, you'll want a product that deeply nourishes your skin cells.

1. Plumscreen® Broad Spectrum SPF 31 by Le Prunier

Our 6x award-winning Plumscreen is specifically formulated to be the perfect daily sunscreen. It feels more like a refreshing moisturizer than a thick and greasy summer sunscreen. It also works harder than any other sunscreen. 

It’s a 4-in-1:

  • Physical sunscreen
  • Moisturizer
  • Makeup primer 
  • Anti-aging skincare

5 years in the making, our revolutionary formula uses plums, a powerful superfood, as the main active ingredient.

This lightweight, silky sunscreen:

  • Blends seamlessly with your skin tone
  • Repairs existing sun damage and signs of aging
  • Contains Zonaria Tournefortii Extract  - a hand-harvested seaweed with anti-aging benefits

★★★★★

"The it-product of sustainable beauty with a 25k person waitlist."

Why we love Plumscreen:

  • Clean, award-winning formula: Contains none of the nasty ingredients you'll find in other sunscreens, like avobenzone, oxybenzone, paraben, fragrance, and sulfates
  • Transparent and silky: Doesn't feel greasy and won't make you look pale
  • Full defense: Full spectrum SPF 31 protects the skin's collagen and elastin
  • Anti-aging and ultra-hydrating: Made of antioxidant-rich plums and Zonaria Tournefortii extract
  • Ensured & Trusted: Awarded the rigorous "Seal of Recommendation for Daily Use" by the Skin Cancer Foundation

How the Sun Affects Skin Health


Persistent exposure to the sun's rays may cause:

  • Wrinkles
  • Age Spots
  • Saggy Skin
  • Most alarmingly, skin cancer. [1]

Daily sunscreen use is your best preventative measure. 

Winter also introduces its own set of skin challenges:

  • UV rays are still a present threat, even though the sun seems less intense
  • Cold, dry air can also severely dehydrate the skin, causing further damage.
  • Snow reflects about 80% of UV rays, nearly doubling exposure. 

UVA and UVB Rays Explained

There are two types of Ultraviolet (UV) radiation: UVA and UVB rays.

UVA Rays

  • Account for up to 95% of the UV radiation reaching the Earth's surface.

  • Penetrate deeply into the skin layers, indirectly damaging the DNA in skin cells - contributing to the development of skin cancers.

UVB Rays

  • Partially absorbed by the ozone layer, but those that reach the earth's surface are more biologically active than UVA rays.
  • Cause sunburn and direct DNA damage, playing a significant role in the development of skin cancer and photoaging.

Choose broad-spectrum sunscreens to protect against both UVA and UVB rays.

Our 6x award-winning Plumscreen's non-toxic, intelligent formula is designed to provide full, broad-spectrum protection from UVA and UVB rays.

It simultaneously works as an anti-aging cream, meaning you'll be able to enjoy the sun without worrying about causing any long-term damage to your skin.


Choosing the Best Sunscreen for Winter

Different sunscreens cater to various skin needs, and choosing the right one is key to skin health.

  • Dry skin: Choose a mineral sunscreen with cold-pressed plant oils and healing antioxidants.
  • Oily or acne-prone skin: Go for a non-comedogenic option to avoid clogged pores and breakouts.
  • Sensitive or rosacea-affected skin: Mineral-based sunscreens with zinc oxide are gentler and less irritating to delicate skin than chemical formulas.


✓ Formulated with non-nano oxide: Non-nano oxide blends seamlessly with your skin tone, leaving no white streaks. It also rests on the skin rather than being absorbed into your bloodstream.

✓ Broad-spectrum sunscreen: Protects against both UVA and UVB rays, shielding your skin from sunburn, aging, and long-term skin damage.

✓ SPF 30 or higher: Provides a high level of sun protection, blocking 97% of UVB rays to reduce risk of sunburn and skin damage.

Our broad-spectrum SPF 31 Plumscreen also protects against HEV light (blue light) emitted by digital screens and fluorescent lights that can prematurely age your skin. A makeup primer and anti-aging treatment, Plumscreen’s powerful indoor and outdoor protection is fueled by the Power of Plum®, packed with antioxidants leaving your skin feeling hydrated, soft, and radiant.

★★★★★

"It smells like plums and feels more like a light face oil than a sunscreen."


Physical Sunscreen vs Chemical Sunscreen

Physical Sunscreens

(AKA Mineral Sunscreens)

  • Contain minerals like  zinc oxide (the safer option) or titanium dioxide . These minerals stay on the skin's surface to deflect UV rays.
  • Because they use natural minerals, physical sunscreens do not have any inherent risks of causing cancer, making them an ideal choice for all skin types, especially sensitive skin.
  • Unlike chemical sunscreens, non-nano mineral sunscreens do not pose a large threat to marine life and coral reefs.
  • We always recommend a natural, physical sunscreen for every skincare routine.

Chemical Sunscreens


  • Absorb into the skin to turn UV rays into heat, which is then released. Some common ingredients in chemical sunscreens include avobenzone, oxybenzone, and octinoxate.
  • There are strong concerns about their safety. Ingredients like oxybenzone in chemical sunscreens are controversial for their negative environmental impact, potential health risks, and hormonal effects as the chemicals are absorbed into the bloodstream.[2]

More than just preventative skincare, our Plumscreen is a physical sunscreen that repairs damage and renews aging skin. Unlike any other sunscreen, it turns back the clock to give you glowing skin. 100% of users noted better skin appearance and texture within just 14 days.

Understanding SPF (Sun Protection Factor)

SPF measures protection against UVB rays, showing how much longer you can stay in the sun without burning.

It's a multiplier. For example: 

  • SPF 30 lets you stay in the sun 30 times longer than without sunscreen. 
  • So, if you normally burn in 10 minutes, SPF 30 extends this to 300 minutes (10 minutes without burning x SPF 30 = 300 minutes without burning).

However, effectiveness varies with skin type, sunlight intensity, perspiration/water, and application.

Higher SPFs don't hugely increase protection.

SPF 30 blocks about 97% of UVB rays, while SPF 50 blocks around 98%. 

No sunscreen blocks 100% of UVB rays.

The key is correct and generous application. Most people use too little, reducing effectiveness. Reapply every two hours, or more often if swimming, sweating, or drying off.

The Ultimate Sunscreen Glossary

  • UV Light (Ultraviolet Light): Invisible rays that come from the sun or UV lights (like in tanning salons). There are three types, based on wavelength: UVA, UVB, and UVC.
  • UVA: The sun's long-wave rays that age skin, causing wrinkles. They can pass through clouds and glass and are consistent during daylight hours.
  • UVB: Short-wave rays from the sun, mainly causing sunburn. They're stronger in summer and are blocked by glass.
  • HEV Light: Known as "blue light," part of visible light from the sun and digital devices. It can age skin and may cause other skin damage.
  • Broad Spectrum: Sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Essential for full sun protection.
  • Physical Sunscreen: Contains minerals like titanium dioxide or zinc oxide (the safer option), reflecting UV rays. Suitable for sensitive skin and offers non-toxic protection.
  • Chemical Sunscreen: Uses chemical compounds to convert UV rays into heat, then releases it. Contains harmful ingredients like oxybenzone.
  • Non-Comedogenic: Skincare that is unlikely to block pores or cause breakouts.
  • PA Rating: Asian rating for UVA protection, from PA+ to PA++++, with more plus signs indicating higher protection.
  • Hypoallergenic: Products with a lower risk of causing allergic reactions.
  • Nano vs Non-Nano: Size of particles in physical sunscreens. Non-nano particles are larger and less likely to penetrate the skin, preferred for clean, non-toxic products.
  • Antioxidants: Added to sunscreens to fight skin damage from free radicals, like vitamins C and E.
  • Reef-Safe: Sunscreens without ingredients harmful to coral reefs, like oxybenzone.
  • Photostability: The ability of sunscreen to remain effective under sunlight.

Conclusion

Don’t believe the myths. 

The sun's harmful UV rays persist year-round, making sunscreen arguably the most essential part of your skincare routine.

The value of clean, non-toxic sunscreen cannot be overstated, more than just sun protection, choose a sunscreen that safeguards your skin without the addition of harmful chemicals. 

Our Plumscreen effectively shields and nourishes all skin types while maintaining a formula that's gentle to the skin and the environment. 

Utilizing the benefits of up-cycled, antioxidant-rich plums found on our 100-year-old family farm, it's an intelligently crafted sunscreen 5 years in the making.

Whether your routine is two steps or ten, no skincare routine is complete without this safe and effective sunscreen. Add it to your arsenal and embrace the winter sun safely and confidently.

Featured in this Article

Our Heritage

4 Generations. 3 Sisters. 1 Farm.

Welcome to Le Prunier, a skincare revolution rooted in a century-old family farming legacy. Since 1916, we've cultivated purple-red plums in Northern California, defining our heritage for four generations. In 1985, our commitment to sustainable, organic farming expanded globally with the discovery of the dried plum as the "Fruit of Life" in Western Asia. In 2014, we partnered with world-renowned labs to create our flagship product, Plum Beauty Oil, harnessing the skincare potential of our sun-drenched plums. With a 2,500-acre regenerative farm in Northern California, we practice herbicide-free cultivation and use 100% up-cycled plum kernels to eliminate waste. The Power Of Plum® is delivered through our patent-pending Plum Beauty Oil, cold-pressed on our farm. It's 6x more potent than Marula and 8x more robust than Argan oil against hydroxyl radicals.® Experience radiant, youthful skin with our fragrance-free, USDA Certified Organic Plum Beauty Oil. Our cruelty-free, clinically-tested products redefine beauty with simplicity.

Embrace the legacy and power of plums with Le Prunier - where Tradition Meets Innovation® for timeless beauty.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which ingredients should I avoid in a sunscreen?

Avoid chemical sunscreens that contain oxybenzone and octinoxate, as they can harm both your skin and the environment. Parabens, used as preservatives, can also disrupt hormone functions and potentially lead to irritation.

I have a darker skin tone, do I need sunscreen?

Absolutely! While melanin does provide some natural protection against sunburn and skin cancer in comparison to lighter skin tones, it doesn't guard against all UV damage. UVA rays can still cause premature aging and contribute to skin cancer in all skin tones. Therefore, sunscreen is essential for everyone, regardless of skin color, to protect against UV damage.

Are sunscreens bad for the environment?

Certain types of sunscreens can indeed have a negative impact on the environment. Specifically, chemical sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate have been found to cause significant harm to coral reefs, leading to coral bleaching and damage to marine life. These chemicals can disrupt the reproduction and growth of reef organisms, leading to a decrease in biodiversity. Additionally, these sunscreens can accumulate in the water, posing a long-term threat to marine ecosystems.

Should I wear lip balm with SPF?

Yes! The skin on our lips is thinner and more delicate than elsewhere on our bodies, making it highly susceptible to sun damage. Lip balm with SPF protects your lips, especially in cold temperatures, helping to prevent dryness, capping, cracking, and the long-term risk of skin cancer.

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9971785/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7648445/