5 Skin Protection Tips for Winter Sports
Exercising year-round is good for your body – including your skin, so whether you’re into adventure sports like skiing and snowboarding, or you’re just out for a winter walk or playing with the kids, getting moving and being active is a great way to make the most of winter. But you do need to take precautions to protect your outer layer from the rigors of cold, dry air as well as wind and sun that can leave skin dry, chapped, itchy, irritated, or sunburned. Follow these five steps to avoid short-term skin discomfort, and long-term skin damage.
Cover up and layer up
Since weather can fluctuate throughout the day, always dress in layers (base layer, sweater, jacket). Fabric choice matters, too. Avoid cotton next to your body because it stays wet when you perspire and can chill or irritate your skin. A better option: synthetic "wicking" fabrics. Also, always remove wet clothing as soon as you come in.
Don’t forget your digits — wear gloves or mittens for all winter sports. If you're planning to be out for more than a few hours, bring a spare pair for hands as well as socks to replace wet ones on your feet.
Exposed skin can come back to bite you – frostbite occurs when skin tissue freezes. It can cause permanent damage. Even though you might feel warm from skating or skiing, exposed skin is at risk of frostbite. Below-freezing temps aren’t all that matters. You also need to beware of the wind chill, or what temperature it feels like outside based on the rate of heat loss from exposed skin, according to the National Weather Service .
Frostbite can sneak up on you, so keep an eye on your friends or family for symptoms. In the early stages, skin will be bright red, possibly with a feeling of pins and needles. As frostbite progresses, skin becomes white or gray and numb. If you suspect frostbite, get out of the cold as soon as possible and use warm moist heat to gently warm the affected areas.
Hydrate and moisturize
Dryness is your skin's enemy No. 1 in winter. If yours isn't getting enough water, the lack of hydration can turn skin dry, tight and flaky (hello, wrinkles!). To stay hydrated, always drink plenty of water before, during and after physical activity. Remember that caffeine and alcohol drain fluids from your system so refrain from ordering that double latte between runs.
In addition to drinking more liquids, use an enriching facial moisturizer within two minutes of washing your face or leaving the shower to maximize absorption.Then re-apply before you head out to help prevent chapping.
Protect your pout
Wind, sun, and cold, dry air can leave your lips chapped, peeling and sore. Breathing through your mouth also dries your lips, so don’t go out without lip protection. What to look for: a product with an oil- or wax-based barrier will help prevent lips from drying out. It should also have sunscreen, as ice and snow reflect the sun's rays. Reapply lip protection several times while you're out and avoid licking your lips because it actually dries them out even more. (Saliva contains acids that irritate lips, and continuously licking will remove any natural oils you have on your lips) . Save cosmetic lipstick for après-ski, and when you come back inside, soothe your lips with a moisturizing product before applying color.
Yes you can get a sunburn in winter, even on cold cloudy days. In fact, “windburn” is often sunburn. Remember that snow reflects UV radiation, increasing your exposure. And mountain skiers take note: UV radiation is stronger at high altitudes. Of course avoiding sun damage is as easy as applying sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher to all exposed skin.
Tight-fitting goggles or side-shield sunglasses also help protect the delicate skin around your eyes from sun and wind damage.
Resist tubbing (and scrubbing!)
After a day of outdoor activity, a long, hot bath or shower may sound like just what the doctor ordered. Unfortunately, hot water and prolonged bathing remove natural oils and waxes that protect your skin. (Bad news: bubble baths also dry your skin, as does using too much soap). Opt for a short, warm shower and pat – rather than rub – your skin dry to prevent irritation.
If you can't resist a soak in the hot tub to soothe aching muscles, don't stay in more than 15 minutes and be sure to take a cool shower after and slather on some moisturizer. Stay away from poorly maintained hot tubs; they can harbor bacteria that lead to skin problems.
Aprés baths or showers, use an all-over body moisturizer to lock in moisture. Oil-based moisturizers work best in winter. If you don't have a problem with acne, use the heaviest cream, lotion or body butter you can find.
One last tip: Stay away from peeling or exfoliating facial treatments or products in winter when your skin needs all the protection it can get.
Take the proper precautions and you—and your skin—will have the best winter ever.
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© Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. 2015