Should You Still Wear SPF in the Winter?

Let us set the scene for you: It’s a winter morning. It’s cold and dark. You wake up, go through your skincare routine, and decide to skip the SPF. It doesn’t matter anyway, right…? We are here to tell you that it does! Using SPF all year round is so important for your skin, and your skin will continue to thank you year after year. Keep reading to learn why SPF is crucial, even in the heart of winter. 

What is SPF?

First, let’s cover the basics. SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor, and it is a measure of how much UV radiation (a.k.a. sun exposure) is needed to create a sunburn on protected skin compared to the amount of UV radiation is needed to create a sunburn on unprotected skin. And when we say “protected” and “unprotected,” we are referring to skin that is wearing or not wearing sunscreen. 

All that being said, it really boils down to the fact that the higher the SPF number, the higher protection your skin has from sunburn and sun damage.

Why is SPF important?

We often hear that people think they don’t need SPF if they don’t spend much time outdoors. However, this is a common misconception. UV rays are powerful stuff, and even a minimal amount of time outside or in the sun each day can damage your skin. This damage occurs because UV rays can deplete the collagen in your skin, which increases the rate of aging through the early formation of fine lines and wrinkles, sun spots, and sagging skin. 

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Using SPF helps to prevent photoaging, which is another word for premature aging caused by unprotected sun exposure. SPF protects your skin from this damage, preserving your skin’s collagen and maintaining your skin’s texture and tone. Of course, SPF also reduces the risk of sunburn and skin cancer, which is a huge plus. And if you have psoriasis or rosacea, SPF can help to keep inflammation away. Overall, SPF is an all-star in the skincare game as it helps to keep you looking young while also increasing your chance for lifelong healthy skin. 

Which level of SPF is best?

Now that we’ve covered what SPF is and why it’s important, let’s go over which level of SPF you should be using. The amount of SPF you need depends on quite a few factors, including:

  • Skin type (fairer skin absorbs more solar energy that darker skin)
  • The amount of time you plan to spend outside (the more time you spend outside, the higher level of SPF you should use)
  • Time of day (UV radiation is strongest at midday)
  • Your geographic location (the closer to the equator you are, the more intense the solar energy will be)

So, which level should you use? We recommend using 30 SPF as a minimum, which is able to block out 97% of UV rays. If you have fairer skin or are outside often, we suggest going higher. However, going higher also just gives your skin more protection, so if you’re considering a product that includes more than 30 SPF, we say go for it!

But does it need to be worn in the winter?

We are finally at the main question: Does SPF need to be worn in the winter? Despite the days being dramatically shorter and typically cloudy, we encourage everyone to wear SPF. All. Year. Round. Did you know that up to 80% of UV rays can still penetrate your skin on cloudy days? So even though you aren’t soaking up the sun, your skin is still being damaged if it isn’t protected. Also, the ozone layer, which is a major player in absorbing UV rays, is thinner during winter months, making your skin even more sensitive to sun exposure. So yes, SPF should absolutely be worn in the winter. 

Choosing an SPF product

The first thing you need to do to fit SPF into your skincare routine is to choose between a chemical or a physical sunscreen. You can learn more about the difference here

If you’re interested in a physical sunscreen, we have two great physical sunscreen options you can choose from. They are our Oil- Free UV Defense SPF 45 and our Hydrating UV Defense SPF 44. Both formulas are super lightweight and protect your skin while also improving your skin’s firmness and elasticity. We recommend the Oil- Free UV Defense SPF 45 for beauties who have more oily or red skin. It’s inclusion of Zinc and niacinamide helps to ward off an oily complexion and helps to reduce inflammation. For those of you focusing on giving yourself a youthful complexion, the Hydrating UV Defense SPF 44 includes Hyaluronic Acid, which has powerful anti-aging properties. It also has a sheer, universal tint, making it a winner for all skin tones. 

How does SPF fit into my skincare routine? 

Once you’ve got your SPF product, it should be applied as the last step in your skincare routine, before applying makeup. If you were to put it on before other products, it would create a burier that won’t let your serums or moisturizers fully absorb. Applying SPF at the end of your routine will let it sit on top of those products and will also protect your skin. Many SPF users also say that SPF products can also serve as a primer for your makeup, depending on the product of course. 

If you’re inside for a majority of the day during the winter, then applying SPF once in the morning should be enough to protect your skin for the day. However, if you’re spending a lot of time outdoors, it should be reapplied every two hours.

Other ways to incorporate SPF into a routine

If you’re not thrilled about the idea of incorporating another product into your skincare routine, or you know you’ll forget to apply it, there are tons of foundation and makeup options today that include SPF! If you have a specific makeup company that you like, look up their brand name followed by “SPF” to find a product that will work for you. Just know that most makeup SPF is not at the same level of quality as stand alone SPF, so we still recommend to use a designated SPF product. If you decide to use makeup that has SPF, you may need to reapply SPF during the day if you’re outside often, so a stand alone SPF could still be helpful with this situation as well. 

Repeat after us: I will use SPF during the winter! If you haven’t been using SPF regularly or during the winter months, we hope this changed your mind! Our goal here at Mint & Needle is to keep you looking your best self and to boost your confidence. Wearing SPF every day will help you with both of those things, year after year.