Do I need to wear sunscreen in the winter?

Young woman applying sunscreen on her face in snowy mountains in winter

Stepping outside during those bone-chilling winter months is already a whole to-do. It would be nice if we could skip the sunscreen step in the getting-ready routine. The good news is, we can save a bunch of money on body sunscreen.

We connected with Dr. Benjamin Barankin, Toronto dermatologist and medical director of Toronto Dermatology Centre, to find out if we should be wearing sunscreen during the colder months.

We first connected with Dr. Barankin to find out which sunscreens we should be using in the first place — here are his recommendations.

So when it comes to winter, do we need to wear sunscreen? “Yes. Mainly if out and about for more than 30 minutes, and just for the face/neck,” said Dr. Barankin.

“We still get sun/UV damage, although the sun is weaker and thus takes much much longer to burn the skin,” explained Dr. Barankin. “Although impact on wrinkles, brown spots and skin cancer are still present.”

And if you’re planning on skiing or enjoying the mountains, it’s even more important to ensure you’re applying sunscreen. “The sun is stronger and can [even] reactivate cold sores,” said Dr. Barankin. “Sun/UV will bounce off of water, ice, windshields and snow and hit us, so it’s important for anti-aging and anti-skin cancer effects to wear SPF when outdoors in the winter, too.”

Same goes for fall and spring: if you’re outside for 30 minutes or more, make sure you apply SPF to stay protected on any area exposed to the sun.

Here are some of Dr. Barankin’s face/neck sunscreen recommendations:

Credit: Randi Mann,

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