Wintertime: sun protection is an all year-round imperative
Most of us know how important it is sun protection in summer, but it is just as important to maintain sun safe habits in winter, especially if you are on the slopes.
Snow can multiply UV exposure as it reflects the sun’s rays. UVs not only hit from above, but they’re also reflected by the snow on the ground, leading to twice the exposure. UV radiation is more intense in altitude as the air cleaner and the atmosphere is thinner and therefore absorbing less harmful UV rays.
On a sunny day, clean fresh snow can reflect as much as 80% UV radiation. UV levels increase by more than 10% with every 1,000-metre increase in altitude and therefore there is up to 30% more UV radiation at 2,000 metres than at sea level
It is also important to remember that coverage found on snowy winter days doesn’t provide sun protection. In fact, up to 80 percent of UV rays burn right through the clouds.
Ski equipment and winter clothing can cover most of the body to maintain you as warm as possible nevertheless do not forget to protect the uncovered bits: ears, face, neck (but also under your chin as the snow reflects from the soil). Use a SPF 30 or higher and apply it 20 minutes before your outdoor activity.
Your eyes are also exposed: snow blindness – sunburn on the surface of the eye – is a critical risk at the snow. Usually the condition disappears after some hours, but it is particularly painful and may cause long term damages, i.e. cataracts.
In order to safeguard your eyes, you should wear wrap-around sunglasses. If you use prescription lens you should apply proper protective prescription lens to your ski equipment.
Sun protection is an all year-round habit. Do not forget to care about your skin even when you are having fun on the snow.