Regardless of the season and where you live, cloud cover is a reality for all of us. And while some have to put up with more cloudy days than others, the silver lining on these overcast days is that you can leave the house without your sunnies and your SPF, right?
Don’t you dare!
For starters, including an SPF in your daily regimen is imperative to your skin’s health. You’re probably aware of the link between sunlight and skin cancers, such as basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. But beyond this major health risk, sunlight also causes damage to skin that can reduce elasticity, create hyperpigmentation, and contribute to fine lines and wrinkles. In other words, excessive sun exposure without the right protection can not just damage your skin at the cellular level, it also creates premature signs of aging.
Now, back to cloudy days. If it’s daytime — even if the the sun isn’t shining — light is actively filtering through the clouds, and this means you are exposed to those same UVA and UVB rays. These rays may not be as potent, but they’re still present. In fact, according to the American Academy of Dermatologists (AAD), up to 80% of UV rays from the sun can penetrate cloud cover and reach your skin.
Cloudy days are especially risky if you’re at the beach, in the pool, or near the snow, as these are all surfaces where light can reflect and bounce onto your skin. In certain circumstances, sun rays can even reflect off the edges of clouds and intensify their light and causing additional skin damage.
The great news is that you don’t have to slather on a thick drugstore sunscreen to protect your skin these days. Skin care companies have caught on to the importance of sun protection, and formulations that range from powdered sunscreens to moisturizers to makeup primers and even foundations now contain SPFs.
So whether it’s a hazy day at the beach, you’re hitting the slopes during the winter months, or you’re simply running errands around town, it’s imperative that you apply a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunblock with a suitable SPF. And beyond that, make sure an SPF is a part of your daily skincare routine!