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Private Consultant Dermatologist
Harley Street Dermatology

Skin Conditions


Sun Safety for Your Skin in Winter

Date: Dec 2016

We don’t often think about sun protection in winter, as it isn’t usually needed in the UK. We see the sun so little, and it is so weak at this time of the year, that we aren’t at risk of sunburn or other sun damage that could lead to skin cancer. However, for those of us who enjoy a winter break in the sun or on the ski slopes, looking after our skin and preventing skin cancer is just as important in winter as it is in the summer.

Protecting Your Skin on the Ski Slopes

Protecting our skin is particularly important when we are skiing, snowboarding, or spending a relaxing vacation in the snow. The damaging UV rays that can cause skin cancer are particularly strong at the high altitudes of most ski resorts. As much as 80% of the UV light that reaches the ground is reflected back up at us by the snow, which can increase the risk of sun damage even more.


  • Use sunscreen of at least SPF 30. Make sure you apply it everywhere that’s exposed, including the underside of your chin which will be hit by reflected light.
  • Choose a sun cream that contains moisturising ingredients like lanolin to protect your skin from the cold and wind.
  • Remember to use a lip balm with sun protection too.
  • Reapply sun cream regularly, especially when you’re out in the wind and snow.
  • Don’t forget your sun protection on cloudy days, because the snow can still reflect enough light to cause sunburn.
  • Cover up to protect yourself from the sun and the cold.
  • Check that your sunglasses or ski goggles provide UV protection.

Protecting Your Skin in the Winter Sun

If you are travelling to a warmer part of the world on your winter break, make sure you are prepared for the change in weather. You’ll need to take the same precautions as you would on your summer holidays.


  • Use sunscreen of at least SPF15. You may need a higher SPF if the sun is strong or your skin burns easily.
  • Reapply sun cream regularly, particularly if you have been swimming.
  • Cover up and keep out of the sun during the hottest hours of the day.
  • Wear sunglasses with UV protection.


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