Do I need to wear sunscreen indoors? Can the sun’s rays penetrate through windows and damage your skin? Long story short, they sure can. Keep reading to find out what kind of rays you should look out for indoors and how you can protect your skin from them on a daily basis.
You probably already know that you need to wear SPF when you’re outside because that’s when you can get a sunburn. But what about all those other days when you’re indoors or driving in your car, surrounded by natural light? We’re often asked, “Do I need to wear sunscreen indoors?” and we always provide the same answer:
Yes, the sun’s UVA (aging) rays penetrate through clouds and windows, and those are the rays that are responsible for issues like discoloration, fine lines and all those other little things we don’t like about our skin. They’re also the ones that cause skin cancer. Read on to find out 1) why these rays behave the way they do and 2) what kind of SPF combats them.
The sun’s different rays and how they affect you:
First, let’s talk about the spectrum of light… The spectrum of light isn’t just about the sunburn you’re getting at the beach. It’s about many different damaging forms of light that you’re encountering all day, every day. And that’s why SPF is the most important thing you can do for your skin, whether you’re outside or inside or whether it’s summer or winter.
The four types of light that the spectrum covers are as follows:
- UVB (burning) rays: These are the rays that everyone typically thinks of when it comes to SPF…they’re those rays that are associated with sunburns and the beach. In addition to sunburns, these rays can cause skin cancer.
- UVA (aging) rays: These are the rays you literally can’t hide from…they penetrate through clouds when you’re outside, and through windows when you’re inside. They also make up around 95% of the UV radiation that reaches us here on earth, and they sink deeper into skin and cause things related to aging (wrinkles, dark spots, etc.). They can also cause skin cancer.
- HEVL (high energy visible light, aka blue light): This is the blue/violet portion of the spectrum of light. It’s emitted from electronic devices, like computers, TVs and phones. It penetrates deep into skin and can result in damage like hyperpigmentation and melasma.
- IRA (infrared radiation): This is the kind of light you can feel in the form of warmth but can’t see. It comes from the sun and other devices that we encounter daily, like hair dryers, and it can cause free radical damage, which leads to skin dehydration and tissue damage.
Here’s the deal with UVA (aging) rays…
For the purposes of this post, let’s focus more on UVA rays. As mentioned above, they attack a deeper layer of your skin, and the reason we call them aging is because 90% of the signs of aging (fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots) come from these UV rays. So that’s why we say that the #1 piece of beauty advice is to wear SPF every. single. day., 365 days a year. Whether you’re inside or outside!
“The sun is more likely to contribute to photoaging over time by shining on your skin through a window,” says Michele Farber, a dermatologist in New York City. “Split face studies have shown that aging from UVA rays—think sun spots and deeper wrinkles—can be more evident on the left side of people’s faces, because the skin is exposed to the sun coming through the driver’s side window of the car.” You’ve probably seen that photo of the truck driver who drove for 28 years, which perfectly illustrates this point- yikes!
Your antidote = broad spectrum sunscreen.
Either chemical or mineral sunscreen actives can help protect your skin, but you have to make sure that the SPF you’re using is labeled with “broad spectrum” sun protection. This indicates that it protects from both UVB and UVA rays––anything not labeled as broad spectrum will only protect you from UVB rays. And friendly PSA..wearing SPF 15 in your foundation is simply not enough. In order to sufficiently protect your skin from UVA and UVB rays, you’ll want to wear an SPF of 30 or above.
Thankfully, all of our sunscreens contain broad spectrum sun protection and will do the trick when it comes to staying safe from UVA rays. If you still want some recommendations for the best kinds of SPF to wear when you’re driving in your car or just hanging inside, then we’ve got you! Our clear sunscreen primer, Unseen Sunscreen, has broad spectrum SPF 40 protection, blue light protection and is great for all skin types and tones. It’s one we wear when we’re spending a lot of time inside, and especially at the office. For more sensitive skin types, another sunscreen primer option is 100% Mineral Matte Screen. This blendable formula also contains broad spectrum SPF 40 and blue light protection. If you’re seeking a does-it-all skincare product, then give Superscreen a go. It’s a super hydrating daily moisturizer with broad spectrum SPF 40 sun protection – in addition to other clean ingredients that help protect from blue light and pollution. And if you know you’re going to be in the car with your hands at the wheel, then remember they need sun protection too! We keep our Forever Young Hand Cream in the cupholder of our car (and designed the packaging so that it would be the perfect fit).
The final takeaways…
In conclusion, don’t forget to wear broad spectrum sun protection that protects you from both UVB and UVA rays every. single. day.––and reapply your SPF throughout the day to stay adequately protected. (Read more on the importance of reapplication here.) And remember: even if you’re indoors and it’s raining or super cloudy outside, those UVA rays are still shining! “Clouds or rain can block out some UVA rays, but up to 80 percent of these rays can and still will pass through,” says Farber.
So the next time your friend asks, “Why do I need to wear sunscreen indoors?,” pull up this article and educate them.
SPF, we’re coming for you…rain or shine!
+Want some more suggestions for the best sunscreens for when you’re inside? Leave your question below and we’ll get back to you!