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Can you get sun damage through a window?

If you’re like most people, this isn’t a question you’ve ever thought to ask. But once it comes into your mind, wow, it kind of makes sense, right? But is getting sun damage through a window in your office really something you have to add to your list of worries? Can you actually get sun damage through a window? Here, we fully answer that question, and detail how to safeguard your skin in an indoor setting.

So, Can You Get Sun Damage Through a Window?

The short answer is: Yes! While the sun is not as strong indoors as it is out, it is still quite possible to suffer from skin damage indoors. There are two kinds of ultraviolet rays that can affect your skin: UVB (associated with burning) and UVA (associated with aging). While most windows block some UVB rays, they do not protect against UVA rays. The American Cancer Society notes that sun damage is milder through glass, but it recommends that you take steps to shield against UVA rays if you spend a significant amount of time near windows. To that end, the Skin Cancer Foundation recommends installing UV-protected window film. UV rays also seep through car windows, helping to explain why people suffer from cancer on the left side of the face more often than the right.

Can You Get Sun Damage Through a Window If You Cover Up?

An extra layer of clothing is your first line of defense against sun damage. While most opaque fabrics will do a decent job of protecting you, clothing that is specifically designed to block ultraviolet radiation gives an extra layer of defense. You can find UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) clothing items — shirts, jackets, accessories — look for UPF40+. 

Can Sunscreen Protect You from Indoor Sun Exposure?

Yes! This is a mindset switch for most people. We recommend applying sunscreen every day: summer or winter, indoors or out — especially on the areas that you’ll probably not cover with clothing. Once it’s part of your daily routine, like toothbrushing, the safer and more protected you will be. To prevent all kinds of sun damage, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends a broad-spectrum sunscreen, which blocks both UVB and UVA rays. You should also consider sensitivity to sun damage when selecting the right SPF: An SPF 30 sunscreen will block out most rays and is generally fine for indoor exposure, but you might choose a higher SPF if your skin is particularly prone to sun damage. To be on the safe side, our preference is for SPF 40+. 

What Kind of Products Should You Consider to Protect Your Skin?

Since sun protection is a fundamental component of skincare, search for products that you enjoy using and feel great on your skin. While sunscreen and protective clothing are functional, they are also part of your wellness and self-care routine. It is far easier to get into the habit of using a product if you love it.

Skincare products should also be simple. The beauty market is flooded with new options, and more come out every day, so it is best to focus on simplicity. Look for a short and straightforward ingredient list. Life is complex enough as it is!

How Can You Avoid Getting Sun Damage?

So, can you get sun damage through a window? The answer is yes. But can you take steps to help your skin? Most definitely! As long as you protect yourself, your skin can stay healthy indoors and out. Take a look around the site to learn more about how to protect your skin — no matter how much time you spend in the sun.