Many skiers are familiar with wind burn: it’s when your skin feels dry, chapped, and irritated after a long day of skiing down the slopes. It’s painful and feels exactly like sunburn. Because that’s what it is.
Wind burn is a bit of a misnomer, because it’s just a kind of sunburn. Wind burn is incorrectly attributed to overexposure to cold winds, when it’s actually caused by UV rays from the sun.
Understanding Wind Burn
However, “wind burn” is still a good word to describe this phenomenon. You see, when we ski down the slopes, cold winds rush around us. Due to the temperature of the wind, we don’t feel the burning effects of the sun. As such, we are less likely to protect ourselves, because we don’t really feel the sting of the UV rays.
On top of that, cold winter winds dry out our skin and make it feel chapped. There’s also the problem of snow reflecting the sun right at us. Snow has the ability to reflect up to 80% of UV light. This means skiers are doubly exposed to the burning effects of the sun.
Protecting Yourself from Wind Burn
Protecting yourself from wind burn is similar to protecting yourself from sunburns. When skiing, remember the following tips:
- Cover up
Covering up is one of the best ways to protect your skin from wind and sun. Wear a windbreaker, and always dress warmly while skiing. Protect your face and eyes by wearing large shades or ski goggles. If you don’t have skiing equipment, you can always rent from our ski shop at Vail.
- Wear a high SPF sunscreen
A high SPF sunscreen is a must when skiing. In high altitudes, a sunscreen with SPF 30 or above is recommended. You need something waterproof or sweat proof, so that you don’t have to reapply it as often. Even then, apply every 30 minutes or so, to be sure.
- Moisturize your skin
Wind dries out the skin, especially during the winter. A thick layer of moisturizer helps retain the elasticity of the skin and prevents painful cracking. Choose a thick facial moisturizer or use petroleum jelly.