Do You Need To Wear Sunscreen Indoors? (The Answer May Surprise You)

by Gio
Sun exposure through glass is dangerous

Think you’re safe from sun damage when you’re hiding indoors?

Think again. Those pesky UV rays can get you even when you’re sitting near a window or driving a car. Well, some of them can…

Can You Get A Sunburn Indoors?

“But, wait, Gio. I’ve never gotten a sunburn indoors. Are you sure UV rays can get me inside?”

Here’s the deal: UVB rays cause sunburns. If you’re behind a window, you’re safe from them. UVB can’t penetrate through glass. Phew!

But, that doesn’t mean you’re safe from all UV rays…

Related: What’s The Difference Between UVA and UVB rays?

How effective is your sunscreen? Sign up to the newsletter below to receive the “Sunscreen Audit” Worksheet and find out if your sunscreen is really up to the job:

Why You Need To Wear Sunscreen Indoors

UVB may not be able to penetrate through glass, but UVA rays sure can.

The A in UVA is for aging. These rays are responsible for premature wrinkles and dark spots.

The worst part? They don’t even make your entire face age at the same rate! If you look at the face of someone who’s been driving cars or vans for a living for years, you’ll noticed that one side of his face – the side nearest to the car windows – has twice as many wrinkles and dark spots!

Want to know something even scarier? UVA rays also increase your risk of skin cancer. Don’t take any chances!

How Can You Prevent Sun Damage Indoors?

I’m not suggesting you stop sitting near windows or never get into a car again. Geez, where’s the fun in that?

But, before you do it, you should take a couple of steps to protect yourself:

  1. Wear sunscreen: All day, every day, even when you’re staying indoors. Make sure it is broad spectrum. Not all sunscreen protect from UVA rays – and they’re the ones getting indoors! Click here to find out which UV filters protect from UVA rays. (P.S. You can’t go wrong with Zinc Oxide).
  2. Window tinting: Applying a protective UV film to your windows reduces UVA penetration by about 15-30%.

How do you prevent damage from sun exposure through glass? Let me know in the comments below.



Isabel January 20, 2011 - 6:32 am

Hmm.. That’s odd.. I actually do get sunburn from driving o_O But my skin is prone to sunburn. It was just a 10-15 minute drive home under hot sun. My right arm was red, dry and flaking x_x

beautifulwithbrains January 20, 2011 - 9:15 am

Isabel, I’m sorry to hear that. That is odd indeed! Was the window down by any chance or did you spend a lot of time outdoors before getting into the car? From what I know, UVB rays can’t penetrate through glass but I guess when the sun is really hot one can never be more careful, especially if one is prone to sunburn.

Tammy January 20, 2011 - 7:55 am

I wear a mineral-based sunscreen and have tinted windows on my car. It makes it harder for me to see at night, but I’m not taking any chances!

beautifulwithbrains January 20, 2011 - 9:16 am

Tammy, that is great. It’s better not to take any chances, I agree. 🙂

LatestGirls January 22, 2011 - 4:48 am

In winters when I used to get cold. I get an urge to stand in sun.

I thought I was smart enough and I used to stand behind the glasses of my window and thought it is totally harmless now.

Well if it is not burning up the skin but causing cancer then it is a bad news for me.

beautifulwithbrains January 22, 2011 - 9:06 pm

LastetGirls, it’s mostly UVB rays that cause cancer but UVA ones do contribute to it improve the risk of getting this awful disease so it’s always best to wear sunscreen or moisturizer with SPF at least. 🙂

Jeni January 22, 2011 - 9:40 am

I got my car windows tinted when I bought it a few years ago. It’s a must here in Las Vegas, because it gets to be 120 degrees in the summer, so the tinting helps with the heat. And of course I got the tinting to protect my skin! I am still kicking myself for never tinting any of the other cars I’ve owned. I definitely have more sun damage on the left side of my face than my right from sun damage while driving! UGH. And of course I wear sunscreen too every day. The other thing I’m paranoid about are my home windows – they aren’t tinted! Tinting them will also help with preventing the carpet, furniture, pictures, etc. from fading. I’ve seen how bad the sun has damaged the interior of my old house.

beautifulwithbrains January 22, 2011 - 9:49 pm

Jeni, that’s a good thing that you had the windows of your car tinted. It won’t keep all the UV rays it but it definitely helps a lot. As for tinting house windows, I remember the windows of my old school were tinted and I hated it as even when the sun was shining and it was a lovely day outside, inside it was dark and gloomy. But in the summer months they were helpful so if the sun has damaged the interior of your house or the weather is hot for months on end, tinted windows can be a good option. Sunscreen is still a must do. 🙂

Gav August 18, 2012 - 7:12 am

You increase risks, not improve them.

beautifulwithbrains August 18, 2012 - 2:56 pm

Gav, thanks for your comment. I’ve often come across the expression “improve risks” actually, but I agree with you that increase is more appropriate, so I’ve changed it. 🙂

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