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Yes, winter sunburn is a real thing
Even when it's cold outside, the sun doesn't care that it's not beach season. Snow and ski-related sunburns can be a real problem if you're not careful. But you can keep these problems away if you use a few precautions.
Beware of the glare
Winter sunburns often happen from the snow itself, because snow is an excellent reflector of sunlight. This means not only are you getting rays directly from the sun, you're also getting UV hitting you from all directions.
Of course, many people think they're safe because they're covered in winter clothing. But don't forget about your eyes and face. Not only should you keep using (FSA-eligible) sunscreen all year-round, but also protective eyewear.
A good pair of snow goggles doesn't just protect your eyes from tree limbs and flying ice balls; they provide major protection from the intense rays bouncing all around you. And if you're not on the slopes, regular sunglasses are just as important.
Oh, by the way, those UV rays don't care if the sun is shining or not, so take these precautions, even when the weather outside is frightful.
Beware of the air
Another reason why snow is a threat that can sneak up on you is the air temperature. During the summer you feel hot when sunburn starts setting in, so you can tell when it's time to get into the shade.
In winter, the outside temperature tends to be colder, and possibly even below freezing. As a result, while the sun is directly hitting your exposed skin, the colder air prevents your body from realizing it's getting a sunburn until it's far too late for preventative action.
Additional steps to take
Yeah, it might seem silly to say, but wearing more layers and covering more skin is an easy way to fight off winter sun concerns. But it can't end there. Unless you live with the overprotective mom from "A Christmas Story," chances are you'll have some exposed skin under that North Face jacket. So even if it's just a wrist or the back of your neck, be prepared - turn your summer sunscreen regimen into a year-round routine.
As far as your eyes go, even if you're not carving down a mountain, you'll need proper protection from UV rays. Make sunglasses a regular part of your winter wardrobe.
We get it, no one wants to think about sun care in the middle of a gray winter. But, taking a few precautions will go a long way toward enjoying a ski weekend or neighborhood snowball fight without a nasty case of sunburn as a souvenir.