It’s the time of year for fluffy powder, fresh turns, brisk mountain air—and goggle tans, dry skin, and chapped lips. As you’re hitting the slopes this season, keep these tips in mind.
Sun Protection Is Key
You’ve heard the warnings about wearing sunscreen before, but they’re more important than ever during the winter months—especially when you’re on snow or ice, which has a uniquely high albedo, or reflectiveness. In other words, while you might be used to protecting your skin from radiation coming from above, when you’re on the slopes you need to consider radiation from below. Use an SPF of 45 or more on your face, neck, ears, and hands. If you’ll be in wet conditions, use a waterproof sunscreen or a formula specifically designed for high-altitude sports. On particularly sunny days, consider using a buff, face mask, and/or brimmed hat to minimize radiation. If you’re feeling zealous, look into a nose cover—they attach to your goggles or sunglasses, protecting your sensitive schnoz.
Don’t Forget Your Lips
Always, always, always use a lip balm with SPF. According to a recent study by the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, only 6% of Americans are aware that ultraviolet rays can cause lip cancer. The study also revealed that men in North America have 5–10 times greater incidence of lip cancer than women. The takeaway? Protect your pout. Every. Single. Time. To remind yourself, stash tubes of lip balm in multiple places—your jacket pockets, your car, your ski bag, etc.
Healthy skin requires moisture, and proper hydration comes from the inside out. Cold air can mask symptoms of thirst, making you less likely to remember to sip water consistently throughout the day. And the air is especially dry at high altitude and in heated lodges, making water consumption even more important. To stay hydrated, don’t guzzle—sip water consistently throughout the day, moderate your caffeine and alcohol consumption, and choose fresh fruits and vegetables (rather than dried or processed food) whenever possible.
Limit Hot Showers
And hot tubs. No matter how good a hot soak sounds after a long day outdoors, scalding water strips skin of natural oils, leaving your skin dry and delicate. Try to keep showers relatively quick. Use warm water, not scalding.
If You Do Get Sunburned
If you do get too much sun, be very careful about re-exposing the damaged skin to the elements. Moisturize, stay hydrated, and use very gentle skin care products until the skin is healed. Consider zinc oxide on any exposed skin on your face, and keep in mind that your temperature regulation might be compromised. And always remember: prevention is key.