Slathering sunscreen all over you when going to the beach is a must. But there’s another thing you do when summer rolls around and the UV index is high: driving.
And if you get sunburns on the beach, are you sure you can’t get sunburns inside your car?
Do windows in cars block sunlight?
According to car manufacturers, they do. However, they mainly block UVB rays responsible for sunburns.
UVA rays, on the other hand, are the ones that go deep into the skin and cause skin cancer after a prolonged exposure.
In cars, only windshields are made to block UVA. The rest of the car’s windows (side windows and rear windows) let UVA penetrate your skin.
This means that you aren’t as likely to get visible sunburns inside your car, but the ones you do will be invisible – and much more dangerous.
Be careful about getting sunburns inside your car
According to a study published in The Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, there were noticeably more skin cancers on the left than the right side in men.
Researchers at St. Louis University School of Medicine went through the records of more than 1,000 patients in a local skin cancer clinic. The conclusion was clear: people who spent a lot of time driving were more likely to get skin cancers on the left sides of their bodies.
In the U.S., that’s the side most exposed to sunlight.
So even though you can’t get visible sunburns inside your car, it’s necessary to do everything you can to protect your skin.
Protect yourself from sunburns inside your car
What can you do to save your skin?
- Apply sunscreen
It’s important to apply broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects you from UVA and UVB rays. Make sure your sunscreen has UVA-shielding ingredients like zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, stabilized avobenzone and ecamsule.
The SPF (sun protection factor) should be 15 or higher.
Apply it to your face, arms, neck and hands. It’s best to apply it about half an hour before you go driving and reapply it every two hours.
If you’ve been sweating a lot, you can reapply it more frequently to make sure you’re protected at all times.
- Wear protective clothing
If you want to protect yourself from getting sunburns inside your car (visible or invisible), it’s a good idea to wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants and sunglasses that block UV rays. If you’re in direct sunlight, wear a hat with a brim.
- Tint or laminate the car window glass
According to a study published in Lasers in Surgery and Medicine, tinted car glass reduces cell death by 93%.
In some states, tinting or laminating the window glass on your car is required, but even if that’s not the case in yours, you can still apply UV-protective film to your car glass.
Stay safe in the sun
Summer is great, but if you spend a lot of time driving, make sure you keep your skin protected so you can enjoy it for many years to come.