Best Winter Skin Care Practices
by Kaelin Zielinski
The weather has changed, Jack Frost is nipping at your nose, literally. During the summer months, it is easy to remember to take care of your skin, apply sunscreen and lotion, and keep your skin healthy and happy. But did you know that skin care is just as important in the winter months? You can get just as sunburned, and the air is drier, sucking moisture away from your largest organ.
Let’s talk about winter sun protection. We all know to put sunscreen on when we are at the beach, however, the sun’s rays don’t go away when it gets cold and cloudy. There are two types of ultraviolet light (UV) that affect the earth’s surface, ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB). According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, most ultraviolet rays can penetrate cloud cover and fog. UVB rays are most responsible for causing sunburn, skin damage and cancer. Although these rays are stronger during the summer months, they can still cause damage, especially when reflecting off snow or ice. UVA rays are responsible for tanning, dark spots, and wrinkles, and they remain constant throughout the year and can penetrate clouds and fog.
Strategies for winter sun protection are similar to summer – cover up, apply sunscreen, and avoid peak sun hours of 10am-2pm. For those of you who did a summer rafting trip, you will remember how much we pushed water-retaining long sleeve shirts like our Free Fly bamboo sun hoodies. We wanted you to be protected from the sun and keep the moisture close to your skin. However, only half of this applies for the winter. Yes, we want you to cover up, but we do not want you to keep moisture close to your skin… can you say hypothermia?! For winter activities, you will want a long-sleeved shirt that wicks water away. There are many companies that produce excellent winter sun shirts. Free Fly and Recover Brands are just two of them. I personally still wear my Free Fly bamboo sun hoodie for shorter winter hikes.
Another strategy for protecting yourself from the winter’s sun rays is to wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen. Broad-spectrum means that it will protect you against both UVA and UVB rays. Apply the sunscreen 30 minutes before adventuring outside and every 2 hours after that. Don’t forget those sneaky places like the backs of your hands, tops of the ears, nose, cheeks, and back of the neck. For those of you blessed with a full mane of hair, you don’t have to worry much about your neck, but the scalp is a prime location for skin damage so put sunscreen on your dome! And finally, don’t forget about your luscious lips! Lips are made from skin and can become sunburned and chapped. They are at the forefront of getting beat up from breathing hard in the cold air, sun reflecting off the snow, and the wind. Super Salve’s Lip balm contains 15spf and soothing botanicals.
At Red River Sports, we have chosen to carry Aloe Up sun and skin care products, specifically Sport SPF 30 sunscreen cream. Aloe Up’s main ingredient is the juice from the aloe vera plant. The science behind the aloe vera plant is that it stimulates your immune system to naturally regenerate skin cells making it a great moisturizer and burn relief product, helps reduce swelling and stops itching. Aloe vera has a similar pH to our skin and carries the sunscreen down into your pores so it doesn’t sit on top of your skin and feel greasy or wash off. Not only does the Aloe Up sunscreen work well and feel great, but the product is also reef friendly, cruelty free, fragrance free, biodegradable, and hypo allergenic. Check out the sunscreen we carry and to find out more information about the Aloe Up, visit www.aloeup.com.
Now that we have covered the topic of sun protection, let’s move onto skin care and moisturizing. We have all come in from a day out playing and felt like our skin had turned to crinkly paper – dry, itchy, and even to the point of cracking. The outside environment has very little moisture in it, and then when we come inside and the furnace or fire is drying the air out even more. Your skin gets sad. The Skin Cancer Foundation has some helpful recommendations to help combat winter skin such as getting a humidifier to add moisture back into the air, and not taking the hottest shower/bath possible. Placing hot water on your skin robs the skin of necessary moisture. Instead, take a warm shower and use a gentle body wash like Super Salves’ Lemongrass Body Wash (author’s note: if you don’t like the smell of lemongrass, this body wash is not for you but it feels lovely). And the final two recommendations are to consider a new moisturizer. Many of our river guides use the original Super Salve brand salve for the harsh environment of the Grand Canyon. If it works for them, it will probably work for you!
The Super Salve company was founded by Denise Tracy, a Flagstaff local who is part of the river community. Denise knows how bad river guides’ hands become. The original salve is the product that started the Super Salve brand and is its main pillar. This is the product that we carry in the Red River Sports store as it is best for hands and feet, but the Super Salve brand carries so much more! I encourage you to take a look at all their wonderful products. I personally love the Vit-C Solution. It feels so good and makes my skin happy.
The sun has lowered in the sky and the air feels crisp and clean. Just because it doesn’t “feel” like its sunny out doesn’t mean UVA and UVB rays aren’t hitting your skin, causing damage. Remember to cover up, protect the sneaky places with a broad-spectrum sunscreen, re-apply frequently, and moisturize to keep your skin happy and healthy!
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