As you probably know, the sun is essential to our well-being as it helps our bodies make vitamin D and establish proper sleeping patterns, but it can also be extremely damaging. UV rays can be broken down further into UVA and UVB.
While UVB rays have a shorter wavelength and can cause sunburn, UVA rays can travel deeper into your skin, accelerating the aging process and causing skin cancer.
Yes and no. The glass itself blocks UVB rays, so you are unlikely to get a sunburn when you are inside your car with the window up. Your windshield will block about all of the UVA rays, thanks to the layer of plastic used in its laminated construction. As a result, your windshield provides the equivalent of an SPF 50 protection level.
The glass found in most sunroofs will also protect you from UVA and UVB, when they are closed.
This protection might not be as strong when we get to the rear and side windows however, as the glass is usually thinner and doesn’t always have the plastic layer protection. They stop some, but not all of the damaging UVA rays, generally giving you an SPF comparable to the most basic sunscreen.
Some newer vehicles are starting to use laminated and more UVA-resistant glass for their side and rear windows. This is something to check out the next time you are car shopping.
So what does this all mean as you drive to work or school, or run your daily errands? Studies have shown that drivers tend to have more sun damage and skin cancer on their left sides, the side that is closest to the window, and especially on their neck, head, and arms.
This is the result of drivers getting more than five times the amount of radiation on their left sides, as compared to their right sides.
This is proof that the sun’s damaging rays can penetrate your side glass and cause you harm.
It could be worse! If you like to drive with your windows down, your sunroof open, or your convertible top down, there is absolutely nothing between your skin and the UV rays. You are fully exposed! There is one solution to this problem, wear sunscreen while driving!
The best approach to protecting your skin is to wear sunscreen while driving during daytime hours. Here are some additional sunscreen tips:
*Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before you start driving
*Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher
*Use at least an ounce of sunscreen on your body to get full protection, including a teaspoonful for your face
*Reapply your sunscreen every three hours (set an alarm on your phone)
*Replace your sunscreen when it reaches its expiration date
*Protect your lips with an SPF-rated lip balm
*Use sunglasses that screen out UVA and UVB rays
*Keep your car windows closed during peak sun hours (10:00 am – 4:00 pm)
*Wear a broad-brimmed hat if you open the sunroof or put the top down
*Wear SPF-rated clothing with long sleeves for added protection
*Have UV-blocking window film applied to your car windows
*Limit the amount of time that you are exposed to the sun while in your car
Let’s be honest, it doesn’t matter what season it is or what the weather is like, harmful ultraviolet rays are always abundant. But do you really need to wear sunscreen on cloudy or cold days? Yes according to dermatologist Katie Manno, MD, working for the Skin Cancer and Dermatology Institute of Reno, NV. “You should wear sunscreen every day because when you are outside, you are constantly being exposed to UV radiation. UV radiation even penetrates through the clouds,
so yes, you should be using sunscreen even on cloudy days.”
Furthermore, the presence of snow can nearly double the amount of ultraviolet radiation that bombards your skin. This means, every single day of the year, no matter what the weather is like, if you are outside for even 10 minutes — less for individuals with paler skin — you should be applying SPF.
To prevent sunburn, reduce the risk of skin cancer, and decrease the likelihood of early skin aging, it is prudent to find SPF suitable for daily wear. An option is to sneak your sunscreen into the products you already wear every day, such as your moisturizer or color correcting cream.
Sunscreen should not only be your friend in the summer, but all year long and as part of your daily routine!