Should I Wear Sunscreen When Skiing or Snowboarding?

It is important to wear sunscreen when skiing or snowboarding, even on cloudy days. The combination of higher altitude, the reflection of snow and ice, and the UV radiation from the sun can increase your risk of sunburn and skin damage.

If you are packing your kit to head into the mountains this Winter, don´t forget your sunscreen... Read on to find out why

Snowboarder in halfpipe

UV Rays Are Higher at Altitude

UV (ultraviolet) radiation is higher at altitude than at lower elevations. This is because the atmosphere becomes thinner at higher altitudes. This is due to lower air levels that absorb and filter UV radiation. As a result, the intensity of UV radiation increases with altitude.

"With every 1000m (3280ft) in altitude, UV levels increase by approximately 10 percent" - The World Health Organization 

For example- The altitude of Aspen, Colorado is 8000ft, and the UV levels will be 24% more intense that at sea level. 

Snow And Ice Are Highly Reflective 

Snow and ice are highly reflective, reflecting up to 80% of the UV radiation, increasing the amount of UV radiation that reaches your skin from almost every direction.

This can be particularly dangerous for your skin and eyes. Many believe that a hat can shade their face from the midday sun whilst skiing or snowboarding when actually, they could be getting burned from below.

Skiier looking out across the mountains

UV Radiation Can Penetrate Clouds 

Many believe that when they are skiing or snowboarding on cloudy days they do not need sunscreen, but this may not be the case. 

UV (ultraviolet) radiation can still be present on cloudy days, even if the sun is not visible. This is because clouds do not completely block UV radiation.

While some of the UV radiation is absorbed by the clouds, some can still pass through.

The amount of UV radiation that reaches the Earth's surface on a cloudy day depends on the type and thickness of the clouds, as well as the time of day and the season.

Generally, on a cloudy day, the UV index is lower than on a sunny day, but it´s still important to protect your skin and eyes from UV radiation.

If it´s absolutely dumping (snowing heavily) you will probably not require sunscreen, but the weather can change from moment to moment in the mountains. We recommend keeping sunscreen in your pocket at all times just in case. 

Handsome winter man

How Can I Protect Myself From UV Radiation When Skiing Or Snowboarding? 

Wear Sunscreen

Always wear sunscreen of SPF30 or higher on areas of exposed skin, especially the nose, lips, neck, and tops of your ears. 

We recommend mineral sunscreens as they provide broad-spectrum protection from both UVA and UVB rays and are less likely to irritate your skin than chemical sunscreens. 

Our Mineral SPF50 formula has been designed specifically for sports and comes in a pocket-sized 50g, plastic-free container. Protecting you, and your playground. 

Some of the benefits include: 

  • Vegan formula
  • Provides a barrier against harsh winter conditions and windchill 
  • Water and sweat resistant 
  • No tears formula 
  • No pull, smooth application 
  • Nourishing natural ingredients including avocado oil and jojoba extract
  • No stains formula protecting white clothing from yellowing 

    Wear protective clothing

    Cover your skin as much as possible with clothing items such as: 

    • A helmet or hat
    • A warm coat with vents that can be opened 
    • A long-sleeved shirt
    • Ski-pants
    • Gloves or mittens 
    • A balaclava, scarf, or buff
    Do I Need To Wear Sunscreen When Skiing or Snowboarding?

      Wear sunglasses or goggles

      Goggles and sunglasses don´t only protect your eyes from the cold wind, snow, and ice particles. They can also block up to 100% of both UVA and UVB rays, which can cause eye damage, including snow blindness, a painful condition that can temporarily or permanently damage your vision.

      Protect your eyes from UV radiation by wearing sunglasses or goggles that have a UV rating of at least 400 and block both UVA and UVB rays.

      Be Aware 

      When moving fast on skis or snowboards and high up on chairlifts you may feel cold and might not realize how much UV damage is caused to your skin until it´s too late. 

      Be aware of how long your skin has been exposed to the sun during the day, and reapply sunscreen every 2 hours. Remembering to apply to extra exposed skin if you are removing layers when stopping in the sun for lunch. 

      If you have children in your group, keep an extra eye out as their skin is more susceptible to burning and they are less likely to realize the damage that is being caused by the UV rays. 



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