Why You Still Need Sunscreen in Winter, According to a Dermatologist

E! News Illustration / Photos Courtesy of Amazon, Bliss, Ulta Beauty

We interviewed Dr. Sheila Farhang because we think you'll like her picks at these prices. Dr. Farhang is a paid spokesperson for Bliss. E! has affiliate relationships, so we may get a commission if you purchase something through our links. Items are sold by the retailer, not E!. Prices are accurate as of publish time.

Here comes the sun, and we say, that's your sign to put on some sunscreen. Love it or hate it, sunscreen should be a non-negotiable, essential step of your daily beauty regimen — even during these colder months of the year, when the sun is covered up by clouds. If the math doesn't seem to be mathing, we get it. After all, why would you need sunscreen, a.k.a. protection from the sun, if the sun isn't even visible? How much SPF do we need on days like these? Is it really necessary to have sunscreen specifically for our hands, neck, lips, and more? What if our makeup already has SPF in it? How do we follow the two-hour reapplication rule without smudging our makeup? And where's the beef?

OK, maybe that last question isn't relevant to the discussion at hand, but for the others, we turned to Dr. Sheila Farhang, board-certified dermatologist. She answered everything you need to know about wearing sunscreen during winter, even recommending some products for us to elevate our SPF game and skin health. From hydrating lip glosses with SPF to mattifying mineral brushes and facial mists, Dr. Farhang has you covered.

So, little darlin', let's get right into it!

Photo Courtesy of Dr. Sheila Farhang

Do you need different sunscreen for spring/summer and fall/winter? What SPF should you be aiming for?

According to Dr. Farhang, the answer is "yes and no." Recognizing the difficulties of even finding an everyday sunscreen that works for your skin (e.g., isn't too greasy or too matte), Dr. Farhang confirmed that "it's totally fine" to keep using your spring/summer sunscreen during the fall and winter.

At the same time, the amount of SPF you need to layer on depends on the amount of sun you'll be exposed to. "In the summer, we usually add an extra sunsccreen that's a little bit more sweat-resistant, or water-resistant for some of those outdoor activities. If you're not doing those outdoor activities as much, then you don't have to put on those extra 70+ or 100+ sunscreen," Dr. Farhang said.

Nonetheless, Dr. Farhang established, "In general, you're still getting some sun exposure in the winter months even if it's cloudy outside, so sunscreen is a must."

In terms of the SPF we should aim for, Dr. Farhang recommends "at least 30." She explained, "During the summer, if you're out and about, or if you're skiing hours on end in the sun, even though it's winter, yoou want to apply at least a 50 or 70." The higher SPF will help maintain your skin's health if you're out and about, but in general, "a daily 30 is enough."

Do you have a favorite sunscreen you recommend?

Dr. Farhang's first sunscreen pick was Bliss, a brand known for its Block Star 100% Mineral Daily Sunscreen. According to Dr. Farhang, "It doesn't leave a white cast, it's really clean as far as the product goes, and it's really lightweight." Additionally, it's formulated with other great properties, including "an added skincare benefit with blueberry, acai, and green tea. It also has a calming Rosa canina oil that helps with excess oil on the face." As Dr. Farhang put it, "I'm all about skincare with benefits and sunscreen with benefits."

Bliss Block Star Daily Mineral SPF 30

The Bliss Block Star 100% Mineral Daily Sunscreen delivers a vanishing tint that seamlessly blends into your skin with a smooth, non-chalky, non-greasy finish. According to the brand, the sunscreen's broad-spectrum SPF 30 protects against both UVA and UVB rays.

One Ulta shopper wrote, "I have tried a lot of popular spfs, but this is the one I will continue to rebuy. There is no white cast, smooth application, no piling when layered with other products, makeup applies well over top, and it dries down well. Overall this is my dream facial spf, the bottle lasts decently long, and its a decent price point compared to other similar products. If you're a daily spf wearer (u should be) i recommend trying this one out!"

$25Bliss$25Ulta Beauty

Do you need specific sunscreen for your face, hands, body, lips, etc.? Or can you just stick with one sunscreen for everything?

According to Dr. Farhang, for the hands, neck, and anywhere that's actual skin, you can absolutely use the sunscreen that you use for your face. Personally, she stated that she reserves a "really expensive sunscreen that I like — the Revision one" for only her face. For her hands, neck, and chest, Dr. Farhang stated that she will "use a less expensive one that's still well-tolerated… but a little bit more affordable."

For body sunscreen recommendations, Dr. Farhang pointed out that "EltaMD has some good ones that are really affordable" (such as the regular body sunscreen and the sports body sunscreen). The key is to use a non-tinted one for these parts of your body to avoid staining your steering wheel, shirt collar, and more.

However, Dr. Farhang does recommend using a lip-specific SPF product rather than just applying your face or body sunscreen. She listed some of her favorite brands that have lip sunscreen products, including EltaMD, Colorescience, and Aquaphor. In particular, if your winter plans include hitting the slopes, Dr. Farhang strongly recommends that you wear an SPF lip balm to protect your lips from the harsh reflection from the snow.

Finally, Dr. Farhang noted that you can usually use your regular SPF face cream on around your eyelids. Something to keep in mind, though, is if you have irritated or sensitive eyes, it may be helpful to stick with a physical rather than chemical sunscreen. According to Dr. Farhang, "A mineral sunscreen (e.g., zinc or titanium) is safer around the eyes versus a chemical sunscren like avobenzene or oxybenzone."

Revision Skincare Intellishade® – 1.7 oz.

The Intellishade from Revision Skincare is a five-in-one daily anti-aging tinted moisturizer with broad-spectrum SPF 45 that works to correct, protect, conceal, brighten, and hydrate skin. It's available in clear, original tint, and matte tint, and it's an ideal beauty staple for those who are always on the go!

One Dermstore shopper called this moisturizer a "must-have in skincare regimen," adding, "I am absolutely sold on this moisturizer! It was recommended to me by my dermatologist in a travel size in the summer, I used it for the first time during a long day on the lake and needless to say I was hooked. I bought a full size bottle the following Monday. No sunburn, no thick, cakey feel. It is also great with makeup application. I always feel protected when wearing this!"


EltaMD UV Lotion Full Body Sunscreen – SPF 30+

This full body sunscreen is formulated with transparent zinc oxide to combat harmful UVA and UVB rays, along with vitamin E and hyaluronic acid for added moisture and comfort. It's formualted without oxybenzone, parabens, fragrances, and dyes, and it can be used on your whole body.

One Amazon shopper raved, "I'm a 3-time melanoma cancer survivor with sensitive skin. I have a cabinet full of a dozen sun protection products that make all kinds of claims but just never really measure up. My oncologist told me that the hospital dermatologists all swear by Elta MD. Having not heard of it I immediately jumped onto Amazon and found it. This has changed my life I swear. It blocks harmful sun rays, goes on easy, it doesn't give me skin breakouts, and best of all, it doesn't leave a ridiculous white paste on my skin making me embarrassed to wear it every day! Thank you Elta!"


EltaMD UV Sport Body Sunscreen – SPF 50

If you're going to spending a good amount of time moving around in the sun, this sport body sunscreen will perform as hard as you do. According to the brand, it's water-resistant for up to 80 minutes as well as sweat-resistant, and you can easily apply and rub it in on wet or dry skin.

One Amazon shopper explained, "I have psoriasis and eczema. I used this and it didn't irritate my skin. My skin is EXTREMELY sensitive. Like as soon as I put fake jewelry on I break out within 10-15 mins. I used this sunscreen while in the Bahamas, and had no sun burn at all. I highly recommend. I know the tube seems small, but a little goes a long way. No white residue when I rubbed it in and it also seems to be moisturizing. It is not greasy or sticky after application"


EltaMD UV Lip Balm Sunscreen Broad-Spectrum SPF 36

This lip balm sunscreen works to protect your lips' delicate skin from sun exposure while simultaneously restoring their natural softness with moisture. According to the brand, it's water-resistant for up to 80 minutes, and it's formulated with zinc oxide and Hydromanil for durable sun protection and long-lasting hydration.

One Amazon shopper called this their "ONLY daily lip balm," explaining, "I have extremely chapped lips, plus I'm not able to catch some rays because of how the sun reacts with my skin. I'm also very allergic to many types of products so I'm extremely careful of what I use. For a while I was looking for a lip balm that could do both: moisturize and protect my lips from the sun. I was hesitant in trying a new one as I wasn't sure how my lips would react but since I've used Elta MD sunscreen I decided to give it a try. I'm so happy I did! I use this product every day, and multiple times. I use it whether it's raining, sunny, or even if I'm out during extreme cold weather. I love how well it protects my lips from the sun and I'm amazed at how well it moisturizes them! Once I put it on I get a "tingly" feeling but after a few seconds it goes away, plus I haven't had any negative reactions so it's great. It is very, very small. But at least it's a product that works well and does exactly what it's intended for. I'm very happy I decided to take the plunge and purchase!"


Colorescience Lip Shine SPF 35

We love multi-functional beauty products! A lip gloss, treatment, and sunscreen all-in-one, the Colorescience Lip Shine comes in four gorgeous colors (pink, rose, coral, champagne). It's formulated with peptides, hyaluronic acid, and vitamin E antioxidants to hydrate and smooth your lips, while the all-mineral SPF 35 works to protect the delicate skin of your lips.

One Amazon shopper raved, "I bought this before I went on a 7 day Caribbean Cruise. My lips are very sensitive to the sun and tend to burn easily. I've tried everything from Thick white zinc to SP 50 chapsticks. This product worked better than anything I've tried before! And plus it's a great lasting lip gloss! So happy I have it a try!"


Aquaphor Lip Repair Lip Balm With Sunscreen – SPF 30

This Aquaphor lip balm is formulated with nourishing vitamins and shea butter, and it includes broad-spectrum SPF 30 that protects your lips from the sun. You can apply it liberally to dry lips as often as needed, and it especially helps to keep your lips protected and soft even in dry, cold, or windy conditions.

According to one Amazon shopper, "I love Aquaphor and was using a small sample-sized tube for my lips until I discovered they made these specifically for lips AND with SPF. Sounded amazing, and I like that I have an actual applicator for my lips. I even use this in other dry areas on my face because it's so convenient. I will say, that on the lips there is a slight bitter taste and smell, but I kind of expected that since it's an SPF product. It provides a clear shine to your lips as any balm would. I like to apply it on top of a lip stain for a nice and simple lip."

$4.79$4.49AmazonreadCOSRX Snail Mucin: Everything You Want to Know About the Viral Beauty Product but Were Afraid to Ask

Do you still need sunscreen if you're wearing makeup with SPF? How can you reapply sunscreen throughout the day without ruining your makeup?

The most important thing is to ensure you're applying SPF on your face, be it in the form of a CC cream, tinted moisturizer, or more. Dr. Sheila confirmed, "It doesn't matter where it's coming from. As long as it's 30+, you don't need to apply another." So, if you're applying makeup that has at least SPF 30, such as the IT Cosmetics CC+ Cream with SPF 50+ that Dr. Farhang highlighted, you don't need to apply an extra layer of sunscreen on top.

With that being said, Dr. Farhang added, "You do need to reapply every two hours." If you're worried about sunscreen reapplication smudging your carefully done-up face, you're not alone. According to Dr. Farhang, mineral brushes and sunscreen mists are the way to go. For mineral brushes, "There's one by Isdin that I really love." She added that mineral powders are great beacuse they absorb some of the oil that's accumulated on your face without smudging anything away, acting almost like a finishing powder in a way. Dr. Farhang noted that she makes sure to keep one in her car and all of her bags, so she can reapply her SPF on the go.

Alternatively, for those who have skin on the dry side, Dr. Farhang recommends a facial mist. "Kate Somerville has a really light one that's really nice," she said, adding that its texture and finish are almost akin to setting spray for your makeup. Check out Dr. Farhang's other sunscreen picks below!

IT Cosmetics CC+ Cream With SPF 50+

The cult-fave IT Cosmetics CC+ Cream is beloved for both the full coverage it provides, as well as its skin-improving and sun-protecting capabilities. The cream is formulated with hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, vitamin E, and mineral SPF 50+ to protect your skin by deflecting UV rays. You can get it in 22 different shades, and it's on sale right now on both the IT Cosmetis flagship site and Amazon!

According to one shopper on Amazon, "Excellent coverage. I've used other products but this one always seems to improve the unevenness and redness in my natural skin as well. I don't get the little white dots of foundation stuck in pores that I get with other products ( although I do use the warmth of my hands to rub into my skin then bounce with a damp Beauty blender to blend ) , and if I want to thin it out I will use another spf ( if I don't want to dilute the SPF) or just a regular moisturizer. I love the SPF in this foundation. It has saved me multiple times… like an unexpected car ride with the top down. If it saves me from that I can only imagine what it does as a barrier on the daily ( can't afford any sun wrinkles) I feel like I will always use this product."

$47$23.50IT Cosmetics$47$32.90Amazon$47Ulta Beauty

Isdin Isdinceutics Mineral Brush

For on-the-go sun protection that won't ruin your makeup, Isdin has you covered. This mineral brush deposits a silky, smooth, fine powder that contains titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, mica, and iron oxides for comprehensive protection against free radical pollutino damage, blue light, and infrared radiation, according to the brand.

One Isdin shopper wrote, "Such a great product. Blends into skin without having to worry about any residue left on the face. essentially has no scent too, which is a plus. Also love that it's small enough to carry on me so I can reapply throughout the day. Highly recommend for anyone who wants a full day of protection from the sun."


Supergoop! (Re)setting 100% Mineral Powder SPF 35

Why You Still Need Sunscreen in Winter, According to a Dermatologist

TikTok-viral and Allure Best of Beauty 2022 winner, this Supergoop! mineral powder allows you to set makeup, mattify shine, and reapply your UV protection throughout the day. You can choose from a translucent powder or three bestselling shades, and it's super compact  as well, making it perfect for keeping in your car, bag, or purse.

According to one Amazon shopper, "I had saw a video on TikTok of someone using this on their part in their hair to keep their scalp from burning so I instantly bought this. This has saved me countless times this summer from burning my part, which I used to do all the time because no one likes putting greasy sunscreen in their hair. Definitely would recommend!"


Kate Somerville UncompliKated SPF Makeup Setting Spray – SPF 50

If your skin is on the drier side, a sunscreen mist might be more up your alley. Kate Somerville's UncompliKated spray works as both a broad-spectrum SPF and makeup setting spray, drying down instantly to set makeup, reduce shine, and provide a soft-focus, matte effect. It even includes hyaluronic acid for added moisturization and light-diffusing silione powder that blurs and softens visible fine lines and wrinkles.

One Ulta Beauty shopper wrote, "This has been my favorite sunscreen for a few years now. I apply lightly to my skin in the morning apply makeup, and then finish with more sunscreen. Spare is in my beach bag and reapply as needed.

$44$37.40Saks Fifth Avenue$44Nordstrom$44Ulta Beauty

Do you have a current favorite beauty product in your daily routine?

"RoC has this dual eye cream that is a gel you can use on the upper eyelid to help tighten, and then it has a cream on the lower eyelid to help with fine lines and dark circles."

According to Dr. Farhang, eye creams are not usually studied for usage on the upper eyelids, so the fact that RoC has come out with one that specifically tailors to each section is noteworthy.

RoC Derm Correxion Dual Eye Cream

The RoC Correxion Dual Eye Cream was developed with dermatologists and plastic surgeons to help treat the upper and lower eye areas, according to the brand. The upper eye gel visibly lifts and firms the eyelids, while the lower eye cream visibly smooths, depuffs, and reduces dark circles.

According to one Amazon reviewer, "This dual-eye product is pretty cool. There is a pink gel that you apply to the upper eyelid and brow bone area and a white cream that you apply to the under-eye area. They are both in the same container, with a separation in the center. I like that these don't have any scent. They didn't irritate my skin. They actually made my eyes look better almost immediately. We recently moved to a much drier climate, and I think the moisturizers in this product really helped, plus it seems to have a smoothing effect as well. Overall, I was really impressed with this eye duo!"


Do you have any final skincare advice you'd like to give our readers?

Firstly, according to Dr. Farhang, "Less is more when it comes to skincare." Along a similar vein, for those of us who have been struggling with acne or another skin condition that just won't go away no matter what internet-lauded beauty product we add to our routine, "Going to your dermatologist is so, so impmortant."

Dr. Farhang also noted that by visiting your dermatologist and having a thorough check-up, you'll be able to strategically optimize your skincare regimen, staying away from allergies or sensitivities that you might've not even known you had.

Looking to shop more must-have beauty items for the holidays? Check out Sarah Jessica Parker's Amazon holiday picks, which include an $8 gua sha set, $24 diffuser & more!

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