Cloudy? Why Sun Safety Is Still Important & How to Protect Yourself
Picture this: it’s a warm, summer day. The sky is overcast with clouds, making the relatively high temperature feel much more tolerable. You decide to take advantage of the shade from the clouds and go for a walk.
Do you still need sunscreen even though the sun is being blocked by the clouds?
The short and absolute answer: YES!
Many people get into the habit of only using sunscreen when they plan to go to the beach or lay out by the pool for a few hours. While this is absolutely necessary, it is important to remember that there are many other instances where you should still be applying sunscreen! Even smaller intervals of daily exposure can add up. Think – walking your dog, driving to work, going on a picnic in the fall, snowboarding in the winter… these are all instances where sunscreen is still important.
So, even if it is cloudy out, sunscreen is still necessary. In fact, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, even on cloudy days, up to 80% of the sun’s harmful UV rays can still penetrate your skin.
The type of sunscreen is also important. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends choosing a sunscreen that offers the following:
- Broad-spectrum protection (meaning it protects against UVA and UVB rays)
- SPF 30+
- Water resistance
Once you choose a sunscreen, be sure to wear it daily. It takes about 15 minutes for your skin to absorb sunscreen, so apply it prior to going outside. Reapply it every two hours or immediately after swimming or sweating. It’s important to protect all bare skin – don’t forget the tops of your feet, your ears, your scalp, etc. When possible, it’s recommended to wear a wide-brimmed hat and cover your skin (e.g., if it’s warm out, wear a lightweight long-sleeved shirt and pants). Wear a lip balm with a SPF of at least 15 to protect your lips and UV-blocking sunglasses to protect your eyes.
Although you should be wearing sunscreen daily, it is important to be extra cautious near reflective surfaces like water, snow, and sand. Seek shade whenever possible, especially between the hours of 10am and 2pm when the sun’s rays are the strongest.
Even when you protect your skin properly, it’s still important to check your body frequently to look out for any new or changing body marks. If you notice anything changing, see a board-certified dermatologist. If you’re predisposed to skin cancer, it might even be recommended to see a dermatologist annually for a body check. As always, consult with your doctor.
American Academy of Dermatology Association. (n.d.). Sunscreen FAQs. American Academy of Dermatology. https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/sun-protection/shade-clothing-sunscreen/sunscreen-faqs
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2023, April 21). Skin cancer. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/dotw/skincancer/index.html
UV or Polarized? Conquer the Rays with the Right Shades. VSP Vision Care | Vision Insurance. (n.d.). https://www.vsp.com/eyewear-wellness/lasik-glasses-lenses/polarized-sunglasses-uv-sunglasses
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The Team at BSDI