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Do Car Windows Block UV Rays?

Even with the windows rolled up, you might still want to wear sunscreen.

Q Does the glass in my car’s windows protect me from ultraviolet rays?

A Like cheap sunscreen, car windows do protect you from the sun—but only up to a point. Glass filters out UVB rays, the part of sunlight most likely to burn your skin and to cause skin cancer. With the windows rolled up you could drive for hours in the desert sun without turning red, says Jennifer Linder, a dermatologist in Scottsdale, Ariz., and a spokesperson for the Skin Cancer Foundation.

But soaking up sun while on the road still isn’t safe, she says. Standard car windows are no good at blocking UVA rays. These rays penetrate the skin to destroy collagen, making you look older and weathered; they also contribute to skin cancers. “When it comes to UVA rays, riding in a car is no different from being outside,” she says.

Linder recommends wearing a full-spectrum sunscreen every day, including days spent mainly in the car. Tinted windows can also help—but be sure to ask for a type that blocks both UVB and UVA rays.


This article was first published in July 2010. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.