One question that I am always asked is “Do I need to apply sunscreen in winter?” The answer is: It depends, but most likely you do.

The sun sends out different types of radiation – the visible light that we can see as sunshine, infrared radiation that we can feel as heat and ultraviolet (UV) radiation that we cannot see or feel. One of the reasons that we need sun protection is because the sun’s UV radiation is both a major cause of skin cancer and skin ageing.

UV levels can be high even on a cool, cloudy day so don’t rely on temperature as a guide for when to use sun protection. If you are in a highly reflective area such as snow and water, you are recommended to use sun protection even when the UV level is low. The best sun protection is clothing (and sunglasses for eyes), areas that don’t get covered with clothing are where you need Sunscreen/Sunblock.

There are 2 main types of sunscreen – Chemical and Physical.

As a general rule, chemical sunscreen uses chemicals to dissolve UV AFTER they have penetrate our skin, where physical sunscreen creates a ‘physical’ barrier to STOP UV from entering our skin. Which one is better depends on your personal preference as each type has its pros and cons.

Depending on the formula, generally speaking physical sunscreen is healthier and uses less harmful chemicals, the common active ingredient is Zinc Oxide. Zinc Oxide is water insoluble therefore physical sunscreen can be oilier than chemical sunscreen. Although most brands now separate face and body formula, and face formula is usually less oily.  The body formula on the other hand, is oilier but can be very water resistant due to its oil based barrier. My favorite face sunscreen is “eco logical” sunscreen for face, even on my T zone this sunscreen does not give me shine at all. Ingredient to avoid: Nano-Zinc.

Compared to physical sunscreen, chemical sunscreen can have a very clean and dry feel on the skin once it’s absorbed and therefore are very popular. Because of all the chemicals in it, they often cause skin irritation and are not recommended to be used with insect repellent. The main active ingredient in inspect repellent DEET can react to ingredients in chemical sunscreen and cause it to be up to 30% less effective. What’s more, chemical sunscreen enhances absorption of DEET into the skin, potentially increasing toxicity especially in children. Ingredients to avoid: Oxybenzone, Vitamin A.

Now I hope I have helped you to make a decision on which type of sunscreen to choose, if not, hey! What did we say the best remedy is? PREVENTION!! I understand if you still prefer the clean feel that chemical sunscreen provides, make sure you avoid using insect repellent that contains DEET. My favorite ones are the ones with essential oils, don’t worry, they are safe for children over 6 months too! Green Foot Mama Organic Defense and BasiK Organics Insect Repellent.

Reference: 

Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology

The Skin Cancer Foundation 

The Environmental Working Group