As our weather gets colder, and the day gets shorter, the last thing on our mind is to apply sunscreen to protect us from the harmful sun. Most people feel that sunscreen is akin to a summer accessory that simply isn’t necessary during the cloudier months. While it makes sense, this is not true. Ultraviolet rays during the winter will definitely damage skin and cause premature aging.

There are three types of ultraviolet (UV) rays- UVA, UVB and UVC. UVC is the strongest of the three and most dangerous. UVC is not one that we need to worry about since this type of radiation is blocked by earth’s atmosphere; it never reaches the surface of our planet. UVB is much stronger than UVA, more damaging to skin causing premature aging and possible cancer. It is most powerful during the summer and especially between the hours of 11 AM to 4 PM. UVB is completely blocked by glass (windows) where as UVA radiation penetrates through glass and windows and will cause most damage to the skin during cloudier days.

Taking care of your skin all year long is essential. Every time we step outside during prime time hours (11 AM to 4 PM), the harmful UV rays can affect any area that is directly exposed to sunshine including our face, hands, arms, and neck, causing premature wrinkles, fine lines, and brown spots.

Luckily, there is a wonderful solution in the form of a topical mineral formula. Zinc oxide sun block works well with the skin because it acts as a barrier, and it literally blocks out both UVA and UVB rays. My second choice of sun block is titanium dioxide. If you are a highly sensitive person, zinc oxide is the least irritating.
My least favorite is the chemical sunscreens that may contain some of the following toxins: oxybenzone, aminio benzoic acid, avobenzone (parsol 1789), diobenzone, menthyl anthranilate, benzophenone, ecamsule, meradimate, octocryline and octisalate. These chemicals are made to penetrate the skin and neutralize either UVA or UVB rays. They have the ability to enter the bloodstream and generate free radicals in the body, causing irritations as well as allergic reactions.

My favorite daily sun block for the face and body is made by Epicuren; Zinc Oxide SPF 20. I find that it is gentle, blends well and will not create any white streaks on my skin. Now if I am outside stand up paddling, snorkeling or snow boarding I won’t go without my PURGLO Element Protection Stick (EPS). It is formulated with zinc oxide, comfrey leaf and jojoba oil- all naturally blended to create a SPF of 27. It is waterproof, windproof, snow proof and also a great sun block! It will not sting or bleed into your eyes and the large stick makes it easy to apply without getting your hands sticky. Perfect for chapped lips and young athletes love it too!

Please Note: During the winter months I do recommend everyone to go outside in the morning (low in radiation intensity) for thirty minutes for some direct sunlight to help with the winter blues and prevent a condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder (please check out last Monday’s blog on this condition). At the same time you may be producing plenty of Vitamin D, a very important nutrient that is essential to optimal health!