“Does that hurt as much as it looks like it does?”
My hiking partner reached out to touch my shoulder.
Ouch! It sure did.
Despite putting on sunscreen and even remembering to reapply, I’d obviously missed a spot. A pretty big one. It was already hot and red and tender, and promised to blister later on.
I hate it when that happens. Especially for someone like me who is so into skin care and health.
But, when you’re out having fun, sometimes you don’t notice that you’re getting a sunburn, windburn, or super dry. After all, protecting your skin shouldn’t keep you from leading a healthy outdoor lifestyle, right?
Right. Staying active, connecting with nature, taking a break from all the things that vie for your attention are all good for you. Fun is good for you.
Especially at this time of year when the days are getting shorter and it takes more effort to get out there.
Even if you wear sunscreen and don’t get burned (good job!), your skin needs a little extra help after bring out in the elements. Sun, wind, snow all take their toll on your skin.
Here’s how to treat your skin well after some outdoor fun-
Wash your face
When you’re active you sweat. If you’re out in the cooler, drier air of fall and winter, it may evaporate quickly and you might not notice it. But you’ll still sweat and there’ll be a dried mixture of salts, bacteria, and grime on your skin. It can irritate your skin and cause break outs.
After you’ve been out in the cold, your skin may be feeling sensitive, so be gentle.
Here’s how to do it-
- Use a gentle, non-drying cleanser.
- Use warm, but not hot, water. Hot water can strip too much oil from your skin and make it even drier.
- Pat your skin dry with a towel. Don’t rub (I know it feels good, but…)it can irritate your skin and damage your skin barrier (which may have already taken a beating from the elements).
- Don’t dry your skin completely. Let it get almost dry and then wait a few moments before you continue with a serum or moisturizer.
Use antioxidants on your skin
Antioxidants, like vitamin C, E, green tea extract, herbal extracts, CoQ 10, berry extracts, and more, help your skin repair itself after being damaged by the elements and environment.
Serums are a great way to deliver a concentrated dose of antioxidants and other active ingredients to your skin. Antioxidants can also be delivered through moisturizers.
Mild exfoliation, no scrubs
Mild exfoliants like AHA’s and other enzymes can help skin look brighter and healthier by helping you to shed outer (dead) skin cells. This can help your other products, like moisturizer and serum, absorb and work better.
But you have to be careful. If you exfoliate too often or too hard (especially with physical exfoliants like scrubs), you can damage your skin barrier and cause redness and irritation, and more dryness.
Hydrate, inside and out
Colder air is drier air. Add that to being active and you’ll need to hydrate both from the outside in and the inside out.
Drinking water is essential to staying hydrated. In the colder weather, it’s normal to feel less thirsty. Drink water anyway (lukewarm is best). Your body and skin will thank you.
Use skin care with a humectant in it. A humectant is an ingredient that draws water to your skin and holds it there. Two common humectants are glycerin and hyaluronic acid.
Hyaluronic acid can draw 1000x its weight in water. It’s found in all our serums and moisturizers.
Hydration actually draws water to your skin, moisturizer helps to keep it there. A good moisturizer is a balance between water and oils that both help to hydrate and nourish your skin. Water based ingredients hydrate and deliver active ingredients deeper into your skin. The oils penetrate the outer layers to help seal in moisture and protect your skin barrier from more damage.
When you go out again, be sure to moisturize to protect your skin and then use sunscreen on top of your moisturizer. Don’t forget your neck, upper chest and the backs of your hands. These areas are exposed to the elements too. They have fewer oil glands to begin with and are more prone to damage and premature signs of aging.
Your lips also need special protection when you’re outdoors. Lip balm and sun protection are really important because your lips don’t have oil glands to help keep them moist. They also much thinner skin so they’re more vulnerable to the damaging and drying effects of sun, wind, and weather.
PRO TIP: It’s a really good idea to apply lip balm before bed. Just like we add a good face cream or oil to seal in moisture while the skin repairs itself, your nightly lip balm will do the same for your lips.
If it’s really cold or windy, use a neck gaiter or scarf and gloves in addition to your products.
Protecting your skin from the elements is critical. You’ll feel better so much better and more comfortable with skin that’s healthy and glowing instead of dry and dull.
The good news is that it’s also easy. A few minutes spent taking care of your skin before you head out (antioxidant serum, moisturizer, and sunscreen) and a few minutes when you get back in (cleansing, serum moisturizer, and maybe some facial oil if you’re dry) and you’re good to go.
Your face, body, mind, and spirit will be healthier, happier, and more relaxed after some active outdoor time.
I’m a huge fan of growing older and spending as much time as I can outdoors and being active. I’m also a big fan of looking and feeling my best at every age. I want that for you too. Part of SunWindSnow’s mission is to encourage you get out there, live your best life, be healthy, and have your best skin while you’re doing it.