On a visit to the beach or a day spent boating at the lake, sunscreen is among the most essential items on your packing list. Protecting your skin from both painful, short-term burns and even more harmful long-term damage, sunscreen is a frequent summer favorite. However, one of the places you might not think to use it is in the car.
When you think about it, this is a little silly, but a car is not the same as your house, and a huge chunk of the time spent behind the wheel is also spent in direct or indirect sunlight. Sometimes, the sun is hidden behind clouds or obscured from your line of sight, but it’s still there. Today, let’s discuss when it’s most important to wear sunscreen behind the wheel and why.
Sun and Sunscreen
The light of the sun is essential to human life. It helps us establish our sleep routines, helps us create vitamin D, and improves our mood. This would be great on its own but there are also downsides to the sun’s light, as you already know.
UV rays, which can be broken down into UVA and UVB rays, can damage your skin and eyes. UVB rays have a short wavelength and cause sunburn, while UVA rays travel deep into your skin, aging your skin and causing cancer. Using any means necessary to protect your skin is a good decision.
Do Car Windows Shield You?
Yes and no. Thanks to a layer of plastic used in its laminated construction, your windshield will block almost all UVA rays. Additionally, the glass in most car windows protects you against at least some manner of UVB rays, making it harder to get a sunburn inside the car. A closed sunroof will usually protect you from UVA and UVB rays as well.
However, the rear and side windows don’t have the plastic laminate, meaning they stop some, but not all, UVA rays. This typically leads to an SPF equivalent of about 16, comparable to cheap, basic sunscreen. While some newer vehicles are upgrading this, it’s best to check out the specs on your vehicle.
Better Safe Than Sorry
So what does this mean for you, the driver, taking yourself to work or the kids to school, running errands in the car all over town, or even road trips? Studies have shown that there is a significant difference in drivers, as they have more sun damage on the left side of their bodies as that is the side exposed to the window.
Drivers get five times more radiation on their left sides than their right sides. This is evidence that the damaging rays of the sun can cause harm even when you have the doors closed and windows up. If you keep those windows or sunroof open? It can be even worse.
This is not to say you should never drive with the windows down – it’s a fun, relaxing part of driving. There’s another solution: sunscreen. As this blog post’s existence implies, wearing sunscreen while driving might not be “necessary” but it is important.
Best Sunscreen Tips
The best approach to protecting your skin is to wear sunscreen while driving during daytime hours. Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before you start driving, using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher. Use at least an ounce of sunscreen on your body to get full protection, including a teaspoonful for your face and make sure to reapply your sunscreen every two hours.
For the forgetful types, you can keep a container of sunscreen in your car so you always have it handy, but make sure to replace your sunscreen when it reaches its expiration date. You can also protect your lips with an SPF-rated lip balm
Some strategies to achieve the next level of sun protection while driving include using sunglasses that screen out UVA and UVB rays and keeping your car windows closed during peak sun hours (10:00 am – 4:00 pm). Wear a broad-brimmed hat if you open the sunroof or put the top down, and wear SPF-rated clothing with long sleeves for added protection. Take it to the next level by having UV-blocking window film applied to your car windows, and limit the amount of time that you are exposed to the sun inside your car.
Your Trusted Partner
As always, we want you to be safe and secure while on the road, and we’re here to help. Our doors are open, even as we continue to take precautions to keep you and our team safe during this time. If you need service, contact us to schedule an appointment. We can’t wait to assist you in issues large and small.