Aspirus Media Center

Importance of Wearing Sunscreen in the Winter


Katrina Mattek

Many people may be tempted to pack the sunscreen away when temperatures get colder, but health experts say sun protection shouldn’t be reserved for the summer months.


“Even though the winter sun does not feel strong enough to cause a burn, the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays, both UVA and UVB, are still present and can still cause skin damage,” says Katrina Mattek, Physician Assistant at Aspirus Plastic Surgery & Aesthetics.


In fact, the sun's rays can be even more harmful during the winter months. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, snow reflects up to 80 percent of the sun’s UV light, so the rays hit you twice, further increasing your risk of skin cancer and premature aging. Mattek says this is why it’s very important to remember to wear sunscreen when performing outdoor winter activities such as skiing and snowboarding.


Here are five tips from the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) to help protect your skin from the sun this winter:


Choose a sunscreen that has an SPF of 30 or higher, is water-resistant, and provides broad-spectrum coverage, which means it protects you from UVA and UVB rays.


Apply sunscreen before going outdoors. It takes approximately 15 minutes for your skin to absorb the sunscreen and protect you. If you wait until you are in the sun to apply sunscreen, your skin is unprotected and can burn.


Use enough sunscreen. Most adults need about 1 ounce — or enough to fill a shot glass — to fully cover their body. In the winter, though, much of the skin will be covered with winter-wear and less of the product will be needed. Rub the sunscreen thoroughly into your skin.


Apply sunscreen to all bare skin. Remember your neck, face, ears, and any other areas of the skin that may be showing. If you have thinning hair, either apply sunscreen to your scalp or wear a winter hat. To protect your lips, apply a lip balm with an SPF of at least 15.


To remain protected when outdoors, reapply sunscreen every two hours, or immediately after swimming or sweating. People who get sunburned usually didn’t use enough sunscreen, didn’t reapply it after being in the sun or used an expired product. Your skin is exposed to the sun’s harmful UV rays every time you go outside, even on cloudy days and in the winter. So, no matter the season, remember to use sunscreen.


By taking the time to protect your skin appropriately, you can help prevent sun damage and keep your skin looking healthy and youthful all year round.


Aspirus Plastic Surgery & Aesthetics carries medical grade skincare products that offer sun protection. For more information, visit or call 715.870.2162.


Aspirus Plastic Surgery & Aesthetics is located at 1901 Westwood Center Boulevard in Wausau, Wisconsin with some providers now offering outreach in Wisconsin Rapids and Rhinelander. 



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