Winter cold, moisturizer and “sunscreens.”

Hello! I understand the importance of wearing a sunscreen on my face but I have yet to find one I like. I am 55 years old and live in Minnesota so we experience more cold weather than warm but I find most sunscreens that I have tried that are formulated for use on your face feel like I have heavy gook on my face and they make my face sweat thus I can’t stand using them. I’m not a big proponent of wearing foundation for that same reason. Could you please suggest a sheer but effective sunscreen I can wear daily? I have looked through your previous blogs looking for info that may answer my question but have not been able to find an answer. Thank you for all your wonderful information. I am always learning something new!


I think sunscreens should really be called UV screens.  Because one key purpose is to prevent that continous, every day, 365 days a year damage from UVA.  UVA is present all year around, through clouds, through window glass, through car windows, etc.  It's a small daily amount, but it really adds up over the years.

I hear you on the "goo."  Some people love the feel on their skin of skin creams and lotions.  And some just don't!  Below are some ideas.

Winter cold

Even if you're not getting frostbitten, prolonged temps freezing or below, can damage the surface of the skin.  Wind chill adds amps the cold up more.  A face mask is really helpful as long as you don't keep pulling it up and down.  It keeps the face and neck skin warm, increases the humidity next to your skin, and in this unusual Covid times, helps with that also.  If your face has to be exposed, then a good moisturizer (think natural lipids) and a UV screen are essential.

If you're skiing, where there is reflection from the snow, it's even more important.  Have you tried the Dermaquest tinted and untinted facial sunscreen? It's very light compared to many and has 18% zinc, therefore it blocks UVA & B better than other sunscreens.  Sometimes it's worth it to pay a little extra to get a product you'll really use.  Also the Elta Clear is lighter than most.

Winter suncreens that don't feel heavy.

You may want to try the two mentioned above, Dermaquest tinted or untinted, or the Elta clear.  Another strategy is to use a lighter OTC sunscreen that you like, but be sure it's at least an SPF 30.  Most of them don't have much zinc though, or the zinc is in a gooey base. If you can find a lighter one you like, then you can layer over that a mineral powder sunscreen like the Colorscience.  It's a little tricky to get the hang of the delivery system.  But once you do, it's a very light powder, and gives great protection because it's high zinc.

Winter moisturizers

Many of us like the more intensive heavier moisturizers, especially in winter.  But if you don't, try just using a hyaluronic acid gel hydrator which is oil free.  Also, try our new MadisonMD Natural Lipid Moisturizer.  It's formulated for normal to dry skin, but moisturizes without a heavy feeling.  For those with very dry skin, using the hyaluronic acid gel moisturizer under your regular moisturizer can be helpful.

Hope this helps,

Brandith Irwin, MD


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