Why you should wear sunscreen in the winter
Client Case #1
So many clients I've seen over the years say "I wear sunscreen religiously in summer when it's sunny out, but not if it's cold and overcast".
Once I had a young woman in her early 20s from Vancouver, Canada who's boyfriend brought her for her first facial. She was wondering about a new dark and mishapen mole she had show up on her nose that would also scab over and bleed often. She said it had also grown rapidly in the last few months from a tiny speck to a more visible spot(why her boyfriend bought her the facial actually thinking I could get rid of it.
I legally couldn't tell her outright it was skin cancer since I'm not a physician, BUT I did tell her it was serious she see a Dr as soon as possible. In my heart I knew it was melanoma, and just prayed she took my advice seriously enough to see a dermatologist ASAP. I asked her about her sunscreen habits, and she said she didn't wear it as it was not really ever sunny where she lived (in Canada), and would just wear it in summer if she was going to the beach or river for tubing.
Client Case #2
I had a male client in his early 50's who came to me for a facial to "clean his skin of all the black heads". When he came in and I did his initial skin assessment, I noticed most of his "black heads" were located around his eyes and upper cheekbones, with his left side way worse than his right.
He had oily skin and acne as a teenager so assumed this was just an adult extension of his acneic skin type. I found these black heads extracted extremely easily, so between this feature and their placement on his face, I knew these were not regular clogged pores, but something called "solar comedones".
Solar comedones are a type of UV damage to the skin where UV rays have basically zapped the natural elasticity of the lining of a pore or follicle causing it to fall open and not function properly as elastic and stretchy healthy pores do. This leads the pore to lay open and fill up with debris like dead skin cells and dirt causing it to fill up and look like a black head.
Once a pore is damaged to the point of becoming a solar comedone, there is nothing that can be done to fix it, or revert it back to a healthy functioning pore. All you can do is extract the filled up debris regularly to look clearer. That's it the damage is done.
When you Google "solar comedone" most of the articles and descriptions that come up about them talk about this being an older person issue only. But as a skin specialist, I've seen these in clients as young as their late 20s.
This particular client had a business installing water filters, where he spent most of his days driving to go inside homes and businesses installing his filtration systems. He didn't go outside often outside of his work van, so he didn't think he needed sunscreen. Little did he know, that his solar comedones being worse on the left side of his face had actually developed most likely from the sun exposure through the windows driving in his van all day without SPF protection.
So do we really need to wear sunblock in winter even if there's like zero sun out?
YES! The UV rays that caused my first clients skin cancer, and my second client's solar comedones penetrate through cloud cover AND windows.
I hate to say this but this but skin cancer is THE most common form of cancer, and is ALSO the most preventable. The UV rays that cause skin cancer and aging, known as UVA and UVC rays penetrate through cloud cover to still penetrate the skin and affect it's cells.
And visible aging of the skin is a full 80% caused by environmental damage to our skin cells including UV rays.
With the thinning of the ozone layer and green house effect in the atmosphere, these UV rays are stronger than in the past. This is why it's SO important to wear a broad spectrum sunblock of at least SPF 30, rain or shine to protect the skin against these rays, not just for maintaining youthful looking skin, but also to maintain the health of your skin's cells.