Why It's Crucial To Wear Sunscreen On Cloudy Days

by Courtney Leiva

We all continuously break important beauty rules like sleeping in our makeup, but wearing sunscreen has definitely become one of those beauty commandments you really can’t afford to skip out on. And even if the chances of burning on a cloudy day seem pretty slim to none, it’s still twice as important to wear broad spectrum sunscreen products regardless of the weather, Joel Schlessinger, board certified dermatologist and RealSelf contributor, explains to me.

“Because UV radiation is somewhat less intense, it would take your skin slightly longer to burn on a cloudy day than it would on a sunny day,” he says. “However, this doesn’t mean you can completely forgo sunscreen protection altogether.”

The Skin Cancer Foundation reports that 80 percent of the sun's UV rays can penetrate the clouds, so it’s definitely important to be on guard at all times. Cloudy skies may make the sun’s rays feel less intense, but you still can easily get burned, without feeling like you’ve been in the sun too long, Schlessinger explains.

To properly keep your skin shielded from the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB rays, here's how to protect yourself on cloudy days.

Remember That Clouds Don't Necessarily Protect Your Skin

Clouds can seem like a protective barrier against damaging UVA and UVB rays, but experts like Dr. Schlessinger warn that ditching the sunblock isn’t the best idea, being that you still can easily burn, even when it’s overcast.

“Dense clouds would reduce UV radiation to some extent,” says Schlessinger. “However, clouds are better at blocking visible light, than they are at blocking UV rays, meaning you could still easily burn, even while it’s overcast.”

And even during the winter season, which is pretty synonymous with dreary, overcast days, you can still burn indirectly while enjoying outdoor activities.

“The sun’s rays bounce off sand, snow, water, and pavement, so you’re actually being exposed to both direct and indirect UV radiation while you’re skiing, snowboarding, or surfing,” says Dr. Schlessinger. “This means, for example, that when you’re skiing in the mountains, you’re receiving stronger direct UV radiation, and the reflection off the snow intensifies your sun exposure by up to 80 percent.” So keep those ski goggles on.

Pick Your Products Wisely

No matter if the weather calls for rain or shine, wearing sunscreen products is highly recommended, as it helps shield your skin from cancer causing rays. But finding your daily dose of protection can be tricky, especially if you don’t know which type of products to shop for. To find your best product match though, Dr. Schlessinger recommends looking for products that contain broad spectrum protection.

“Because SPF only covers how well a product protects against UVB rays, it’s important to look for a formula that is labeled broad spectrum,” he says. According to The American Academy Of Dermatology, broad spectrum sunscreens protect against UVB and UVA rays, the two types of harmful rays from the sun that reach the Earth.

While most brands are getting better about incorporating broad spectrum SPF protection inside their products, it never hurts to look for products specifically tailored for proper sun defense.

For starters, using a broad spectrum facial cream like the Philosophy Ultimate Miracle Worker Multi-Rejuvenating Cream SPF 30 ($75) can provide daily broad spectrum protection against UVA, UVB, and infrared light. Similarly, both the Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30 ($17) and the Drunk Elephant Umbra Sheer Physical Defense SPF 30 ($34) help rev up your skin’s defenses, as both creams properly shield your complexion, without weighing it down.

Philosophy Ultimate Miracle Worker Multi-Rejuvenating Cream SPF 30, $75, Nordstrom; Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30, $17, Amazon; Drunk Elephant Umbra Sheer Physical Defense SPF 30, $34, Sephora

But if you want stronger defense that is ultimately weightless, the Salma Hayek Nuance Sheer Liquid Veil SPF 50 ($10) brings an oil-free sun barrier, right to your complexion.

Salma Hayek Nuance Sheer Liquid Veil SPF 50, $10, CVS

You’ve probably heard an earful on why you should be wearing sunscreen, but the experts aren’t lying to you when they stress its importance. To maintain good sun shielding habits, always look for products with broad spectrum SPF protection, starting at least at SPF 30. That way, you get proper protection against harmful UVA/UVB rays even when the sun’s not out.

Images: Ondrej Supitar/Unsplash; Giphy (4)