Beware of the winter sun!

by Lorraine Williamson
winter sun

An estimated two-thirds of ex-pats living in Spain do not properly protect their skin against sun damage during the winter months.

Sun damage is just as likely in the winter as in summer. However, most people are unaware of the effects at this time of the year.


Everyone should look after their skin, especially younger women who may not be thinking about the effects of premature ageing that sun exposure NOW may cause in the future.

Remember, it is not just when you are at the beach, sunbathing that you are vulnerable in the sun. Sitting outside a coffee shop, walking to the shops, or along the paseo with friends without sun protection could put anyone at risk of skin cancer.

UV index

winter sunA UV Index of 9 or 10 here is common in the summer. Even in the winter, the UV index can reach 5 or 6 or more on exceptional days. The thick clouds can greatly reduce ultraviolet radiation levels but, surprisingly, certain types of thin clouds can actually magnify the ultraviolet radiation strength.
The higher the UV Index, the greater the potential for skin damaging (and eye damaging) UV radiation. Consequently, the higher the UV Index, the less the time it takes before skin or eye damage occurs.

You can check the UV index here.

How long can it take to burn?

Low risk means there is little to worry about.

Medium risk means you should avoid being in direct sunlight for more than 1-2 hours

High risk means you could burn in 30-60 minutes.

Very high risk means that you could burn severely in just 20-30 minutes.

So, even in winter, certain skin types could still easily burn within an hour of being in the sun.  Always try to keep out of direct sunlight and apply sunscreen regularly. Also remember, the sun is always there. It might just be behind a cloud, but that doesn´t mean you can´t burn.

Editors note: please be aware the UV index table is simply a guide as everyone´s skin type is unique. But always best to err on the side of caution.

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