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Myth busting – the sun won’t damage your skin in winter

Published: Fri June 15, 2018
Categories: The Myth Minx

Throughout winter we tend to focus on keeping our skin soft supple and hydrated; free from dryness, chapped skin or flakiness. All the while many of us neglect to protect our skin as vigilantly as we did in the warmer months.

So Myth Minx is here to investigate and bust the winter skin myth – can we still experience sun damage in winter?

To cut to the chase the short answer to this question is a definitive ‘yes’! Firstly MM wants to you to know there is no link between temperature and UV light; these two factors are independent to each other. It is true that the UV levels change throughout
the year, however, a cooler day in winter doesn’t mean that the UV levels will be necessarily be lower than a warmer day in winter.

The UV index will vary throughout the year due to:

  • Height of the sun (the higher the sun is in the sky, the higher the UV radiation level)
  • Distance from the equator (stronger when closer to equator)
  • Reflective surfaces (snow can deliver up to 88% reflectance)
  • Altitude (UV levels increase at higher altitudes, approximately 4% every 300m)

Taking these factors into consideration, certain winter time activities could actually expose us to an increased risk of sun damage, such as snow skiing. Here we contend with higher altitudes and also reflective surfaces, both of which will increase the UV levels elevating our risk of sun damage.

The key take away for many of us is to understand that even though we may not be burning as quickly in winter, we are still experiencing long term skin damage as a result of sun exposure.

While there are differences between UV levels during summer and winter (primarily due to the angle of the sun in the sky), what is interesting to note is that UVB rays can decrease in winter whereas UVA rays remain relatively unchanged. To put is simply, UVB rays are responsible for the burn response in our skin (they penetrate to the more superficial layer of our skin; the epidermis). Whereas, frighteningly UVA do not actually produce a burn response, rather they penetrate much deeper within our skin down to the dermis and produce long term skin damage such as premature ageing, photo-ageing and even melanomas. We cannot see or feel UVA rays and they have the ability to easily penetrate glass and clouds. It’s these UVA rays we need to be protecting ourselves against year round regardless of temperature.

How do you know if your skin is sun damaged?

Sun damage can present differently from person to person, however any overexposure to the sun will undoubtedly contribute to degenerative ageing of the skin, which results in wrinkling, and loss of skin tone and elasticity. A sun damage skin could possess some or all of the below:
• Uneven skin tone with areas of hyperpigmentation
• Age spots (lentigo)
• Dry skin
• Actinic keratosis (scaly, rough patches of skin or raised bumps with a pink, yellow or brown
• Photo ageing (lines and wrinkles)
• Solar elastosis (considerable reduction of skin elasticity)
• Poikiloderma (reddish brown discolouration on the neck and cheeks)
• Oxidised appearing complexion as a result of free radical damage

How can you treat sun damage in winter?

MM suggests that winter is an excellent time of year to treat sun damage, as many people tend to spend less time outdoors in direct sunlight, so the likelihood of any pigmentation worsening throughout treatments is reduced.
To effectively target sun damage a combination of skin needling, chemical peels, microdermabrasion and laser treatments are usually incorporated to target signs of sun damage; brighten pigmentation and address premature ageing. The type and extent of sun
damage and pigmentation will dictate your individual treatment plan.

Stay Vigilant with homecare
Your best defence against sun damage throughout winter is to continue using your broad spectrum SPF 50+. Remember, it must be broad spectrum protection otherwise you will not be safe guarded against the damaging UVA rays. Be sure to use your Skinstitut Age Defence SPF 50+ each morning. This is your daily defence against the harmful effects of the sun aiding in the prevention of skin discolouration, premature ageing and loss of elasticity.

Homecare to hydrate and brighten throughout winter
Two of MM favourites for treating sun damage in winter include Multi-Active Mist and Even Blend Serum Skinstitut Multi-Active Mist deeply hydrates and nourishes the winter complexion. Improving radiance, texture and tone through the combination of key skin brightening vitamins (B & C) plus powerful botanical extracts (like licorice root). Simply spritz underneath Even Blend Serum or moisturiser each morning and evening to keep skin looking radiant and fresh all
year round.

Skinstitut Even Blend Serum needs no introduction when it comes to targeting pigmentation – this powerhouse correcting serum lightens and brightens the complexion, fading unwanted pigment improving skin tone and luminosity. For best results use both AM & PM under your moisturiser & Age Defence SPF50+. Follow these simple steps to keep your skin tone flawless all year round.


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