You might think that a bad fall would be the riskiest danger you’d face when snow skiing. But unless you’re just a bad skier – or a beginner – you are at greater risk for damaging your skin.
“In fact, you may be more at risk for skin damage while snow skiing than you are while lying on a beach,” says Dr. Richard Price of Price Skincare Clinic in Ridgeland, Mississippi. “The wind, snow and ice can deceive you into believing you are safe from the harmful elements of the winter sun. Nothing could be further from the truth.”
Snow skiers are at more risk from sun damage for two reasons:
(1) Higher elevations offer lower protection from the atmosphere. Scientists say that for every 1,000 feet above sea level, the atmosphere filters out four percent less of the sun’s harmful rays.
Since most ski resorts are at a minimum of 5,000 feet above sea level, you get 20 percent more of the sun’s rays before you ever get on a ski lift. And the higher you go, the less protection you get.
(2) Just as water reflects the sun and intensifies its effects, so does the snow. The snow becomes a winter mirror, reflecting the sun onto your nose, your cheeks, and your chin – any place that isn’t covered.
So what’s a skier to do?
Here are three tips on how to protect your skin from the harmful effects of the winter sun while skiing.
Tip # 1: Moisturize Well and Moisturize Often
It’s important to apply moisturizer at least 15 minutes before you ski so that your skin has time to absorb the sunscreen.
And it’s just as important to reapply moisturizer after periods of skiing. Extreme temperatures and harsh winds can weaken your skin’s lipid barrier, allowing moisture to escape from the skin, which dries the skin out.
Use an oil-based moisturizer to create a protective barrier. And after showering at night, moisturize again.
So moisturize well and moisturize often.
Tip #2: Use Protective Skin Products on Exposed Skin
In addition to moisturizing, you need to keep a sunscreen product with SPF 30 or greater to protect your skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays. Make sure and spread the sunscreen on all exposed areas.
• If your nose is exposed, spread zinc oxide on it to protect against sunburn.
• Lips are often forgotten but due to their sensitive nature, chapped, cracked or peeling lips are a nuisance and damaging to the layers of skin on your smackers. Keep a tube of lip balm in your pocket and use regularly.
Tip #3: If It Can Be Covered, Cover It
Covering your skin isn’t just about protecting it from the sun – appropriate outerwear keeps you warm and protects you from harsh winds and cold temps that can leave your skin dry, cracked and damaged.
• Hide Your Eyes: Because UV rays are more powerful at higher altitudes (remember that four percent rule), protect your eyes and the skin around them with a mask, goggles or glasses. You want your snow skiing souvenirs to be great photos – not crow’s feet.
• Cover Your Head: Wearing a hat will protect your head from the sun’s harmful rays and from the cold winter wind. And wearing a helmet will do the same as well as provide some protection against head injury resulting from a fall. You can also opt to wear a ski mask, which covers everything but your eyes. Just remember to apply sunscreen to any exposed areas such as the eyes.
• Protect Your Hands: Gloves provide critical protection from the cold, wet and wind but are also important to protect the skin on your hands from the sun.