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April 9, 2020

Why You Need to Wear Sunscreen Indoors — Even If You’re Not Near a Window

Photodamage is no joke, and apparently it can find you even in self-isolation.


Now that we are all quarantined in our home, binge watching Love is Blind or Tiger King, baking sourdough, or playing Stardew Valley while listening to audio books (highly recommend this method of coping with isolation), we may or may not be skipping some skincare steps. Me, personally? My routine is down to three or four steps. I just can’t be bothered to do much more than that, seeing as no other human has seen my face in 14 days except for my boyfriend.


But even though I’ve pared back my skincare routine to the bare essentials, there is one step that I still definitely do not skip: sunscreen. You might think it’s counterintuitive. I mean, you’re not going outside, who cares? Sun? I don’t even know her. Yet the sun’s pesky rays can still damage your skin, even while you’re working on the couch. Yes, it’s me, Sheryll, telling you yet again, that you should wear sunscreen indoors, outdoors, and at all times, even during this period of stay-at-home self-isolation.



wear sunscreen indoors
Unsplash/Thought Catalog



UVA rays penetrate windows


So, we know that there are different kinds of harmful rays that the sun emits. Let’s break them down.


UVB Rays: B = Burning

These are the rays that give you painful sunburns, tan your skin, and cause melanoma (aka skin cancer).


UVA Rays: A = Aging

These are the rays that cause cellular damage and you literally can’t escape them. These rays are still able to damage your skin through clouds, windows, rainy days, snowy days, and everything in between.


So, you see that even though you’re inside and not really receiving tons of UVB rays (according to Chicago esthetician Ashley White, most windows filter out these harmful rays), you’re still susceptible to damaging UVA rays. UVA rays cause a myriad of problems: They decrease collagen production (bye bye bouncy, plump skin), they cause fine lines and wrinkles, dark spots, and that signature leathery skin look. UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin than UVB rays and cause an incredible amount of photodamage to the skin. In other words, UVA rays are no joke.



wear sunscreen indoors
Unsplash/Lenin Estrada



My work desk is right next to a window. The right side of my face is constantly in the sun. My couch is also right next to a window where the left side of my face is exposed to the sun. I’m getting sun at all times, which is nice, but I’m trying to look a youthful 30 for the next 20 years, okay!



But Sheryll, I’m not near a window


So, what if you have your windows closed? What if you literally get no sunlight at all? Not so fast! All of those Zoom meetings (and Zoom happy hours with friends) are also taking a toll on your skin. Our computers, iPads, and cell phones emit HEVL, or high energy visible light, aka blue light. These rays also penetrate the skin and cause photodamage, resulting in melasma and hyperpigmentation. Who knew?!


And also, if you do happen to take a nice walk outdoors (which I highly recommend that you do, at least once a day for your mental health, as long as it’s safe), you’re going to need sunscreen. Don’t get caught slippin’!



Unsplash/Avel Chuklanov



So, any way you slice and dice it, wearing sunscreen indoors is imperative if you don’t want to get sun damage. I recommend using an SPF of 30 or more with broad spectrum protection. Broad spectrum protection means it protects against both UVA and UVB rays. My current favorite sunscreens? Black Girl Sunscreen, which has 30 SPF and zero white cast. It feels just like a moisturizer and is perfect for a day spent indoors. I also like the Earth’s Recipe Waterful Sun Gel, which is perfect for people with oily, acne prone, or combination skin.


Do you wear sunscreen indoors? If not, are you going to start? Let me know where you stand!



Sheryll Donerson got her start as a beauty writer by writing K-beauty reviews for her blog, The Wanderlust Project. These days, she's lifting heavy weights, eating tacos, drinking (too much) coffee and is 1/4 of the beauty podcast, Beauty Beyond Basics (or Triple Bees for short). You can find her on Instagram and Twitter at @sheryllrenata.



Wow! Sheryl, what an insightful article. I had no idea that our screens could be causing damage. Thank you so much for sharing! Well done!

I definitely wear sunscreen indoors. Especially, since I have large windows in my home. It is quite hard for me to miss that sun shining on my skin. I think that this is a great article to inform and make people aware of wearing sunscreen indoors.

It is so important wearing SPF as part of our daily ritual, even when we are indoors. Great article!

This article is very well explained in every way! Yes, we need to and should be wearing sunscreen! I learned the hard way after hyperpigmentation, from a "facial-gone-bad" and the dermatologist told me that the scarring was more from the sun and I need to wear sunscreen every day! Even though it was one spot, I didn't want to see it and it felt like forever and a day to go away! We should also touch up throughout the day... Like, as many times you mist your face or powder your nose... you should touch up with sunscreen too! So,... Read more

I'm always wearing sunscreen indoors ever since. For some light bulbs we have at home, offices or any places have UV rays. It's always good to get our skin protected.

Love this!! I always tell my clients and even my friends and family they still need to wear sunscreen inside! I'll be sending them this link.

I absolutely love this article and stand by it one hundred percent. I advocate for sunscreen like nobody’s business and even recommend, as I do so myself, even wearing it on cloudy, overcast days. Even when you don’t think you see the sun, it most certainly sees you! Thank you for such an informative article!

SPF is so important to me - I use it full on and daily even in wintertime, even on cloudy days.. The sun is still very strong even if it is hiding behind the clouds.. I had not even thought about the effects  of uva rays indoors as usually I am away from windows,  they are closed, & I have on previously-applied spf..  This article has been very informative and a great read, thank you for sharing .. gotta stock up on that SPF 

Am super up-to-date with my skincare routine and keeping my skin safe from UVA/UVB and somehow I did not take sunscreen indoors serious. This article is so informative and worth the read. Right now I’m using the Dr. Jart Tiger Grass Color Correcting Cream. It has SPF 30 and acts as a foundation. Definitely glad I got it I’ll be using it indoors now as well!

I can not stress this enough! SPF is important indoors, outdoors, rain, or shine. The sun will always be there in hiding waiting for you, unless you’re in a windowless room with no light, your skin is receiving UV radiation that can cause damage to your skin.