Whenever the sun decides to shine on a winter day, everyone acts like summer came early. I'm not sure about other colleges, but on my university's campus, people are out sunbathing, hiking, slacklining, going on picnics, and it's not even above 50 degrees. Even though it's still considered winter time, the sun is still present and just as dangerous.
It may not look or feel like it, the sun still shines through on those grey, cloudy winter days and it can still cause harm to your skin if you're not protecting it. Clouds don't act as a shield from the sun, so wearing sunscreen during the winter is just as important as it is during the summer. Now, you don't have to break out your Costco-size bottle of SPF 100 yet. Wearing something even with SPF 15 can make a big difference for your skin. There are moisturizers out there that come with SPF in its formula too. Also, not only is protecting your skin important but your eyes as well. I know that wearing your Ray-Bans and winter coat isn't exactly the most fashion forward thing, but it's still the same sun that burns your eyes no matter the season.
Now I'm not sure if this is common knowledge, but you can still get severe sunburns during the winter. With sunburns comes increased risk for skin cancer, which is not taken as seriously as it should be. While melanoma does have a high survival rate, the risk of the cancer cells metastasizing, or spreading to other cells is deadly. While writing this article, I looked to see the rates of melanoma diagnosis' globally and saw that the countries with the highest rates weren't tropical countries, but those who get "cold" season such as the U.S., Canada, and parts of Northern Europe. Within our own country, the states with the highest melanoma diagnoses are towards the north!
My point isn't to try to scare people (unless you do have a weird looking mole, then maybe you should go to your doctor), but to spread awareness about how protecting your skin isn't just something that you just do during the summer. It doesn't mean that every time you do go outside you immediately increase your risk for skin cancer, but you can damage your skin. Increasing your chances of skin cancer comes from constant and high exposure to the sun. The rates of melanoma don't have to be as high as they are right now. All it takes is putting on something with SPF year-round and covering up the places on your body that you aren't planning to expose to the sun.
So, the next time you plan on going out, make sure you're protected!