Fluffy white powder, bright sun and you carving the slopes. That’s followed by a well-deserved hot toddy, nestled by a roaring fire in the lodge and then a soothing, steamy shower. Step out and wipe the mirror to reveal…screech…snow-time fantasy comes to a sudden halt when you’re faced with the reality of parched, post-ski skin. Not to worry, snow bunnies, here are expert-recommended tips for keeping your face, lips, and hands looking and feeling their best in mountain-high, cold climates.
The temperature extremes, wind and altitude that come with a day on the slopes can be a harsh combination for skin. As Dr. Blair Murphy-Rose, of N.Y.C.’s Laser and Skin Surgery Center explains, “In cold weather, there is less moisture in the air, and water evaporates much quicker from our skin.” And yes, all skin types become drier in the cold, even normal and oily complexions. But it’s not just the cold outdoors. “Very cold or very hot — sitting in front of a fire, for example — can be irritating and drying for the skin,” she says, adding that indoor fireplaces contribute to drier air and therefore drier skin. “Wind is another skin irritant that causes chapping and inflammation.” And in terms of those high-mountain altitudes? “The climate is often drier at higher altitudes where humidity levels are reduced, and the dryness contributes to dry skin.”
But not to worry, that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your skin if you want to indulge in a bit of powder play. The first step? “Take care of your skin and moisturize with a product containing anti-inflammatory properties,” says Dr. Murphy-Rose. She adds that ceramides, lipids that help form the skin’s moisture barrier, are key “to protecting skin from the elements.” Sunday Riley Ice Ceramide Moisturizing Cream, with its lipids and antioxidants, will help skin stay hydrated all day. Also, slather on the SPF, even in winter. “SPF is important year-round for preventing sunburn, skin cancer and signs of aging,” points out Dr. Murphy-Rose, adding: “When you are in a high elevation, the UV index may be higher and there is a reflection of UV rays on the snow that can increase your sun exposure.” Sunday Riley Light Hearted Broad Spectrum SPF 30 glides on smoothly to offer protection from the elements. The third skincare key is a gentle face wash, which is “especially important in the drier months to prevent stripping of natural oils and irritating your skin,” says Dr. Murphy-Rose. The perfect pick? Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip Cleanser, an extremely gentle face wash formulated for the most sensitive skin types that also gets the job of removing impurities from pores done. And as much as you may want to wash your face and body with super-hot water, keep it lukewarm for the face and not overly hot for the shower, “which can contribute to drying and skin irritation.”
Don’t stop with the complexion, however — the lips need plenty of TLC as well. “The mucosal surfaces of the lips are particularly prone to drying,” says Dr. Murphy Rose. “Use a non-irritating lip balm and use it very frequently. I generally recommend lip products that are solid at room temperature because they provide better protection from the elements and lock in moisture more effectively.” Pop a tube of Coola lip balm with SPF or Smith’s Rosebud Salve Balm into your jacket pocket for application on the slopes. This salve can also help with chapped skin, especially under the nose if you’re wiping drips frequently and skin becomes irritated. Dr. Murphy-Rose recommends “dabbing with a tissue” instead of rubbing the nostril area. “It’s less likely to irritate the skin.” If you’re prone to chapped nostrils or lips, wearing a covering over them is key.
As with the nose area, she suggests keeping hands covered in cold, dry weather to avoid contact with the elements. “Even a minute or two exposed to the cold can irritate the skin and cause redness, roughness, cracking, itching, and increased sensitivity.” Slather on a rich hand cream (like Caudalie Hand Cream) before nestling hands into gloves or mittens.
Finally, what about timing? Do you need to tend to your skin as soon as you come inside? “It definitely can wait,” she says. “Hot toddies and all of the après ski goodness is essential! Apply a lip balm and some hand lotion as you order your drink.”
We only recommend products we have independently researched, tested, and loved. If you purchase a product found through our links, Sunday Edit may earn an affiliate commission.