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Do You Need Sunscreen If You’re Inside All Day?

Woman applying cream to her face in front of the bathroom mirror.
Dragon Images/Shutterstock

It’s sunny and nice, but you’re skipping outdoor activities today. If you’re staying inside to avoid the heat or the crowds, or just taking it easy, do you still need to wear sunscreen?

As it turns out, yes! Sun damage can actually occur even through windows. The threat isn’t as great as it is from direct outdoor sunlight, but it still merits tossing on some sunscreen.

Windows block most of the damaging rays, but not all—certain types of UV rays can still penetrate them. These usually aren’t enough to cause sunburn, but they can cause skin damage and aging over time. They can even increase your risk of skin cancer.

Your level of risk for indoor exposure depends on your habits and home design. For example, if you spend all day in a home office in front of a big window with direct sunlight, you’re more at risk for indoor sun damage.

Of course, there’s no need to take drastic measures, like always closing the blinds or wearing a hat inside. But you might want to put on a layer of sunscreen when you’re indoors this summer—especially if your windows let in a lot of natural light.

Opt for a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 for the best results. Apply it to any exposed skin, like your hands, arms, neck, and face. Try to remember to reapply it every couple of hours, as well. Keeping a travel-size bottle of sunscreen handy in areas like your home office can help you remember to reapply.

If you don’t want to be greased up like you’re at the beach while sitting at your desk, we get it. Busting out the bottle of Coppertone when you’re not at the beach or poolside is probably a wee bit much for indoor use. It’s a lot more pleasant to use a general-purpose moisturizer, like CeraVe’s Daily Moisturizing Lotion. It includes SPF 30 sunblock and feels much lighter than greasing up your face with old-school sunscreen.

If you never wear sunscreen indoors, you’re probably still not at high risk for serious skin damage. However, this easy habit can help slow down sun-related signs of aging. It might also reduce your risk of skin cancer, which is a good enough reason to get in the habit.

Plus, if you routinely wear sunscreen indoors, it’ll help you remember to apply it when you go outside. You’ll never have to remember to put on an SPF-packed moisturizer before you head out to the backyard or the park if you already have it on.

Elyse Hauser Elyse Hauser
Elyse Hauser is a freelance and creative writer from the Pacific Northwest, and an MFA student at the University of New Orleans Creative Writing Workshop. She specializes in lifestyle writing and creative nonfiction. Read Full Bio »

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