Do You Need To Wear Sunscreen If You're Chilling In The Shade?

During the long winter season, many of us are dreaming of the spring and summer days that are filled with sunshine and warm air. While soaking up that natural vitamin D does wonders for your mental health — improving your mood by boosting serotonin — there are risks that come with spending too much time in the rays. Your skin will give you signs that you're getting too much sun, but applying sunscreen is an easy way to avoid unwanted burns.

Though we all know about the importance of applying sunscreen before spending a day at the beach or on a sunny hike, forgetting to put on the product before you step out the door is common. What really happens when you skip sunscreen? You may be putting yourself at risk for skin cancer, for one.

It's easier to remember to apply sunscreen before spending time in direct sunlight, but what about when you're laying low in the shade? The answer may surprise you.

You won't want to skip the sunscreen in the shade

It may be easy to assume that if you're spending time in the shade rather than in direct sunlight, skipping sunscreen is OK. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that shade is a great option for preventing sunburns. "You can reduce your risk of sun damage and skin cancer by staying in the shade under an umbrella, tree, or other shelter," they explain. However, to provide your skin with the most protection, you will want to apply sunscreen. Their advice continues, "Your best bet to protect your skin is to use sunscreen or wear protective clothing when you're outside — even when you're in the shade."

The UV light from the sun can reflect off the water and cause an unfortunate burn. So, what SPF should you wear even if you choose to stay shaded? In order to keep your skin protected from the majority of the sun's rays, you should avoid using anything less than 30 SPF. If you want to take it a step further, you can purchase sunblock with up to 100 SPF, which will get you some extra coverage. It's important to note that the American Academy of Dermatology Association found that no matter what SPF you apply, you're skin is still susceptible to sun damage.

Sun can still impact your skin even on cloudy days

While staying in the shade may feel like you're getting limited sun exposure, there are shocking statistics surrounding how little sun you need to be at risk for lifelong skin damage. A study conducted in 2017 found interesting results when it came to indirect sun exposure. 78% of those who did not apply sunscreen but stayed in the shade still got sunburnt. One way you can lower your risk is by adding an SPF into your daily routine. This one from Drunk Elephant is a good option. 

Even if you're not on the beach but out for your morning run on a cloudy day where you feel shaded from the sun, you still should put on sun protection. "According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, clouds filter less than 25% of the UV rays that penetrate your skin to cause skin cancer," Dr. Tony Yuan told Forbes. "Even though you may feel cooler on a cloudy day, your skin will still absorb a majority of the UVA and UVB rays." Whether you are under shade or experiencing cloud cover, it is still important to take preventative measures when stepping outside.