This March, winter-worn masses across the country will seek out a much-needed diversion in the time-honored tradition known as spring break. Whether you’re the parent of school-aged children or a college student with a few extra bucks, school is out – it’s time to put the long, hard winter behind you and go live a little. While warm, sandy beaches remain the popular choice, there are some who eschew the surf and sunshine for snow and skiing. Whatever your preference, make sure your skin care routine is slope-ready with these simple tips. Don’t Skimp on Sunscreen Here’s a fun fact: You can sunburn on a mountaintop just as easily as you can surfside. A fairly recent post explained the importance of sunscreen even in the dead of winter, and it’s even more important when skiing. When you’re hitting the slopes, you’re particularly vulnerable to increased radiation due to reflection and altitude and decreased sunscreen performance due to the wind.
- Reflection: Because white is reflective, you end up get a double dose of radiation – directly from the sun and bouncing off the snow.
- Altitude: The further away from sea level you get, the greater your exposure to UV rays. For every 1,000 feet above sea level you climb, UV exposure increases 8-10 percent.
- Wind: Coupled with cold temperatures and abrasive ice particles, wind wears away sunscreen, making more frequent reapplication necessary. Windburn, in itself, can be just as irritating and damaging as sunburn, so general skin protection is good policy.
Don’t Forget About Frostbite Although it is incredibly unusual in everyday life, participating in outdoor winter sports like skiing can increase your chances of frostbite. Frostbite happens when your skin is exposed to extreme temperatures, causing your body to go into self-preservation mode. Blood vessels in your extremities constrict to better preserve your core temperatures. With prolonged exposure, those constricted blood vessels begin to die. Depending on the severity of exposure, this can cause an uncomfortable stinging sensation and discoloration in mild cases to permanent loss of feeling to amputation when severe. For more information on identifying and preventing frostbite see our post “How to Tell if You Have Frostbite (And What to Do About It).” Don’t Miss Out On Moisturizing The cold, dry mountain air makes proper hydration a chore for even the healthiest skin, resulting in Itchy, irritating, and unsightly dry skin. After you’ve hung up your skis for the day, help it heal with some much-needed moisture.
- Texture: Opt for a balm or cream rather than a lotion. They contain less alcohol (a drying agent), last longer, and penetrate deeper into the skin.
- Additives: Masking agents, found in both scented and unscented lotions and body washes, can further dry out the skin. Make sure your products are fragrance-free.
- Replenish: After showering down, be sure to moisturize within 3 minutes toweling off. The process of bathing strips your skin of its natural oils, so they need to be replenished as quickly as possible.
You wouldn’t hit the slopes without gloves or skis, so why skimp on your skin care? Whether you’re tearing down the double black diamonds or happy to stick with the bunny hills, take a few minutes to make sure your skin is as prepared as the rest of you. And, as always, when healthy skin seems like scaling a mountain, the skin care experts at Forefront Dermatology will give you a lift. To find the Forefront physician nearest you, visit the Locations page today.