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Sun damage from skiing or snowboarding

Updated: Feb 18, 2021

Sunburns aren’t just a discomfort of the summer. You can actually get a sunburn during every season. The culprit behind suntans and sunburns is the ultraviolet (UV) radiation emitted by the sun. UV rays reflect off of snow, sand and water; however of these surfaces snow is the most reflective and can nearly double UV exposure. Because of this winter athletes like skiers and snowboarders are at an increased risk of UV related skin damage. What’s also important to note is that with increased altitude comes increased UV exposure.

To keep your skin safe while enjoying wintersports, it’s advised to wear broad spectrum SPF sunscreen, UV protective clothing and UV protection sunshield. A study showed that only around half of western North American adult skiers and snowboarders were using sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher. And that only about a fifth reapplied their sunscreen after 2 hours as recommended.

Sometimes you may be skiing or snowboarding in a T-shirt on a warm winter day. It’s on days like these that it’s especially important to wear sunscreen. You’ll probably wear a jacket and gloves on colder days. However, the skin on your face and neck may still be exposed. It’s important to know that the friction of cold air on your face can cause windburn, which is especially painful when combined with sunburn. Often times winter athletes forget to apply sunscreen to the underside of their chins, which is an area that’s vulnerable to UV rays reflecting off of the ground.

UV protective clothing is especially made to protect your skin better than ordinary clothing. Consider wearing a long-sleeve UV protective shirt when you’re planning to ski or snowboard on a warm day. UV protective clothing keeps you cool while absorbing harmful UV rays.

When skiing and snowboarding your eyes and the skin around them are also vulnerable. Wearing protection that blocks 99-100% of UV rays can help protect the eye area from UV related eye damage, like photokeratitis (which is sunburn of the eye) and cataracts. It’s important to note that UV rays can reflect off of the ground and reach the eye area from several angles.

Bluestone sunshields provide 99% UV blockage of both the facial skin and eyes at once.

Shop your sunshield now

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