Why You Should Wear Sunscreen (Even On Cloudy Days)

I’m militant about people wearing sunscreen.  I remember learning about our depleting ozone layer in school and being horrified- and it’s worse now! People have a lot of excuses to not wear sunscreen but I really, really, really want people to change their minds.

The difference between UVA and UVB rays confuses people- including myself, so I looked it up. This information is from the University of Iowa:

“There are many different types of rays present in sunlight. The rays that are most damaging to our skin are called ultraviolet (UV) rays. There are two basic types of ultraviolet rays that reach the earth’s surface—UVB and UVA. UVB rays are responsible for producing sunburn. The UVB rays also play the greatest role in causing skin cancers, including the deadly black mole form of skin cancer (malignant melanoma).

UVA rays also play a role in skin cancer formation. In addition, the UVA rays penetrate more deeply into the skin and play a greater role in premature skin aging changes including wrinkle formation (photoaging). There are approximately 500 times more UVA rays in sunlight than UVB rays. Therefore, in addition to protecting your skin from the effects of UVB rays, it is also very important to protect from the damaging effects of the more numerous UVA rays”. Source:

Clear as mud? Basically, both UVA and UVB are damaging and you should try to protect yourself. Look for a sunscreen that is at least SPF 15 or higher and has a combination of UV protection.

Reasons you don’t wear sunscreen:

  1. I don’t burn. Any tan technically indicates damage to the skin. A burn does doubles your chance of developing melanoma but you should always protect yourself with sunscreen regardless of whether you are prone to them. Apply it 20 minutes before going out in the sun.
  2. I work inside all day. Glass filters out UVB rays but NOT UVA rays, which can penetrate deeper. If you are feeling the warmth from a window, or enjoying its natural light, you are also being exposed to harmful rays.
  3. It’s winter so I’m off the hook. Actually, not to be a downer, but snow can reflect up to 80% of the UV rays back up to you, increasing exposure.
  4. It’s cloudy. I won’t burn. According to SCF, up to 80% of the sun’s UV rays pass through the clouds. This is why, when people pass on sunscreen during cloudy days, they often end up with serious and painful sunburns.
  5. All of the harmful UV rays are being blocked by the clouds. breaks it down like this: “Under skies that are only partly cloudy, something interesting happens. A phenomenon called the ‘broken-cloud effect‘ can occur, which causes higher UV levels – higher than a completely clear sky would allow. A survey conducted at six U.S. cites in 1994 found cumulus clouds could raise surface UV-B by 25%, and in 2004 Australian researchers reported that the UV-B rays associated with DNA damage were up to 40% stronger under partly cloudy skies.” Scientists think this may be because the UV rays are being trapped and bounced around by the clouds and then right back down to us. The way it was described to me, it sounded like the UV rays were being help closer to us by the clouds, therefore increasing the need for sunscreen.
  6. I am only walking to the car in my shorts/skirt, I don’t need to apply sunscreen on my legs. The most common place for women to have cancerous moles appear is on their calves. Why? Those short walks to the car or to grab lunch add up.
  7. It makes me break out. There are a myriad of sunscreens out there and one of them will work for you, I promise. I’m in love with Neutrogena Ultra-Sheer Dry Touch Sunscreen. You’ll find one that works for you!

I know I sound like I’m “momming” you, and I am a bit, but only because it’s important. Everyone jokes about getting skin cancer but it is only funny if you don’t have it. My kids are “tortured” every single morning when I apply sunscreen to every part of their little bodies that are exposed- the ears are their least fave.

I do this because I have watched Josh’s grandma battle suspicious moles at every doctor’s visit. Sometimes they have to cut them out of her skin and most of the time they are on her face. Little band-aids mark the spot where they’ve been and she said sometimes the procedure is quite painful. Every time she goes out in the sun, for any reason or duration of time, she has to wear a huge hat, scarf to cover her delicate face and full sleeves and pants. Her skin is so delicate now that any exposure could cause painful burns or increase the chance of more cancerous moles.

The elderly aren’t the only ones that are affected. I read an article where a bunch of 20-year-old girls shared their stories of battling skin cancer. It can happen fast and doesn’t discriminate by age.

Please protect yourself.



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