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Skiers Need Extra SPF

The sun’s rays can be especially dangerous on the slopes.

Every athlete knows that education is a crucial part of performance. Sport and exercise research, insight from top trainers, science, and technology help you to better understand your body so you can craft a healthier lifestyle, workouts, and recovery plan.

In our daily news series, experts address some of the latest fitness research, nutrition, style, and health stories.


THE SCIENCE
In a recent study in PLoS ONE, when people were told to apply sunscreen on their face, they missed around eight percent of their skin. The most commonly omitted area: around the eyes—the same spot roughly five to ten percent of all skin cancers develop. What’s more, past studies have shown fewer than five percent of adult skiers and snowboarders apply or reapply sunscreen properly.
EXPERT INSIGHT
"The eyelid region is really thin and susceptible to damage, and a much higher proportion of skin cancers affect the eyelids than you’d think based on their small area," says study author Kevin Hamill, Ph.D., lecturer of eye and vision science at the University of Liverpool in the UK.

Hamill’s team ran the same test across various seasons and found people neglected their eyelids in the summer just as much as they did in the winter, but Hamill adds there is particular risk in the colder months. People think about sun damage less when they can’t feel the heat due to chilly winds. The reflective nature of snow might also rebound UV rays onto the eyelids.

THE BOTTOM LINE
Apply SPF 30 on every part of your skin that will be exposed to the sun 30 minutes before you head out for winter sports and reapply every two hours, regardless of how cloudy or hot it is. Hamill advises also wearing goggles that wrap around your face and have 100 percent UV protection, like ones from Smith or Oakley.