Do I Really Need to Use A Sunscreen in Winter?

Q&A2Question: I am a 45 year old South Asian women. I now live near Chicago  and the weather is  usually  grey and very cold.  My cousin says I still need to use a sunscreen and I think its unnecesary  at this time of year.  Who is right?

Answer: Umm, I tend to stay out of family arguments, but  in this case I have to say your cousin is right.  The UV rays are  hitting our skin all year  round.  While  your melanin rich complexion  provides protection from sun aging and skin cancers,  even weak UV rays  can  provoke  unwanted patches of darker pigmentation known as hyperpigmentation or melasma.    Brown spots and splotches  are an increasing problem  for  skin  of color.  Rather than spend a good part of your beauty dollar on  products that promise to  brighten and even out the skin tones,  prevent hyperpigmentation by investing   in a sunscreen with at least a 30SPF.  In summer a 50SPF is  even better.

Virtually every dermatologist  I  speak to makes sun protection for everyone  their main focus– and they dream of the day when its as automatic  as brushing  your teeth.  Because its so essential for skin health and beauty, its key is choosing the right sunscreen for your skin.  If you have dry skin, a good sunscreen can   boost  hydration.  However if you have oily  or acne prone skin,   the wrong sunscreen can increase  skin problems.  For  best results,  look for  oil free forumulation that provide physical sun protection with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.  The chemical sunscreens like avobenzone and Mexoryl are effective  but can be irritating– and this irritation can provoke moremelasma and hyperpigmentation  in women of color.  Not what you are looking for.

Use the sunscreen every day  on your face, neck and hands.    There has been  alot of discussion about how much  goo you should put on.  I’ve tried out the   often quoted recommendation of one tablespoon  per face and the results were both funny and disturbing.    To keep up sun protection during the day, use a mineral based powder  like Brush on Block ( $32, free shipping).

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