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How To Protect Your Skin When Skiing 

From goggle marks to chapped lips, most skiers are well-aware of the toll their favourite sport takes on their skin. So, how can you keep your skin happy while also sliding down the slopes? Here’s our derm-approved guide to protecting your skin when skiing, from the first run of the day to the last.

Why is skiing so harsh on your skin? 

Skiing is notoriously tough on your skin, thanks to the mountainous climate. First off, there are the temperatures – often sub-zero, the cold, dry air is abrasive and sucks the moisture out of your skin. Add in the wind, which can further damage your skin barrier, and it’s the perfect recipe for irritated, unhappy skin. 

“When your skin barrier is compromised, the outer layer of your skin tends to look dull and can feel rough and dry,” says Dr Ben, Consultant Dermatologist at Skin + Me. “The skin tends to lose water easily and the skin is more vulnerable to external irritants.” If you have rosacea, your skin can be particularly sensitive to changes in temperature, so you might notice that your skin flares up when you go out into the cold or come back inside to the central heating. 

Then there’s the snow. Not only does it contribute to the general chilliness, but those lovely white fields of fresh white powder also reflect and intensify the sun’s rays. “A combination of the altitude and the reflectance from the snow can mean that you have higher UV exposure than you expect,” says Dr Beibei, Dermatologist at Skin + Me. This can lead to sun damage, from acute burns to the longer-term signs of skin ageing like fine lines and dark spots.

Skincare for a day on the slopes

First thing’s first, you’re going to want to start your day with a clean canvas. Use a gentle cleanser – it might be time to embrace a more hydrating formulation than usual – and lukewarm water before carefully patting your skin dry. 

If you want to use a morning treatment, opt for an antioxidant-rich serum that will help combat free radicals. A high-quality vitamin C treatment is a fantastic way to protect your skin during the day and brighten up your complexion. Or, if you want to minimise redness and irritation, opt for an azelaic acid serum which will help calm and soothe the skin – you can find serums with both of these ingredients in our Brighten + Boost Morning Serum Range

You’ll also want to flood your skin with hydration, so opt for a moisturiser that’s packed with nourishing ingredients. If you usually use a light moisturiser, it might be worth switching it for something a little richer during your trip – here are the ingredients we’d recommend looking out for: 

  • Ceramides are lipids that bind together your skin cells, forming a protective layer which reduces water loss. 
  • Humectants like glycerin and hyaluronic acid will attract and retain much-needed moisture from the environment and the deeper layers of your skin. 
  • Shea butter, the star of our Soothe + Smooth Rich Moisturiser, is an ultra-hydrating ingredient with a high concentration of vitamins and fatty acids to nourish the skin. 

And, just because it’s cold doesn’t mean you should neglect your sunscreen. “Winter sunlight can be strong, particularly when at altitude and near reflective surfaces such as snow so you should definitely protect exposed skin in these situations too,” says Dr Jason Thomson, Head of Medical at Skin + Me. 

“You should apply your sunscreen generously to all exposed skin around 20 minutes before going out into the sun,” he continues. “It’s also recommended to reapply your sunscreen around 15 to 30 minutes after sun exposure begins. This is really to help cover any patches you may have missed and to account for the fact most people don’t put on enough sunscreen in the first place. You should reapply your sunscreen every couple of hours.” 

And finally, you might want to add an extra layer of protection against the elements. “I would suggest protecting lips with a really thick ointment, such as Vaseline or Aquaphor,” says Dr Beibei. “This could also be applied directly on the skin, for example, on the cheeks, as a skin protectant.”

The best apres-ski skincare routine

The most important thing to do when you come off the slopes and settle into your chalet is replenish all the moisture that you lost while on the mountain. Use your hydrating cleanser again to prep your skin before slathering on an extra-rich treatment. 

“I would suggest using a hydrating or barrier-repairing moisturiser overnight,” says Dr Beibei. This will help your skin to recover after a day in the harsh elements, by delivering all the nourishment it needs and sealing in hydration while you rest up before your next day on the piste.

Final thoughts

If you’re hitting the slopes, you’ll want to make sure that your skincare routine is nourishing and protective against the elements. Your skin goes through a lot during a day of skiing, so make sure you look after it with some rich, moisturising products – and don’t forget, even if it’s snowy, you still need to wear sunscreen.

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