The sun’s rays are present year-round and they are capable of penetrating clouds and damaging your skin even when it’s cold or overcast.

Cutting your risk

About 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers are caused by the sun’s rays. There is good news, though: making just a few lifestyle changes can help reduce your skin cancer risk. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re going outside, whether you’re heading to work, hitting the ski slopes or digging your car out after a snowstorm.

Clothing is the best defense against skin cancer. Choose clothing made from tightly woven fabrics that keep the sun’s rays from hitting your skin. Denim and wool offer great sun protection and have the added benefit of keeping you warm. Cover up with hats, scarves and gloves to protect your head, neck and hands. And don’t forget sunglasses — not only will they protect your eyes and the sensitive skin around your eyes, but they also combat harmful snow glare.

“I tell all my patients that applying sunscreen should be part of your daily routine, just like brushing your teeth.”

Like brushing your teeth

Snow reflects up to 80 percent of the sun’s rays, nearly doubling your sun exposure. Your sunglasses should come with a tag indicating that they offer 99 percent or greater UV protection. Look for this tag on ski goggles, too. The more skin you can cover, the better.

I tell all my patients that applying sunscreen should be part of your daily routine, just like brushing your teeth. Make sure your sunscreen says “broad spectrum” on the label; that means it protects against UVA and UVB rays. A sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher is good for everyday use, but use an SPF 30 or higher if you know you’ll be spending extended time outside. To avoid winter dryness, choose a product with a moisturizing ingredient like lanolin or glycerin. Apply two tablespoons to all exposed skin, and be sure to reapply every two hours if you’re spending the day outdoors.

Winter weather may keep us inside most of the time, but it’s important to stay sun safe when it’s time to brave the cold. Let 2017 be the year you make sun protection a priority. Your skin will thank you for it.