Sunscreen should be worn every day — and not just during the summer. This is especially important for guys who love playing outside during the fall and winter months.
“Being out in the sun for an hour at Sundance, Mount Baldy, Jackson Hole or Heavenly Valley is about the same as being on the beach all day in Hawaii,” says Doctor Douglas Key of the Key Laser Institute in Portland, Oregon. Higher altitudes place skiers and snowboarders closer to the sun, making UVA (aging) and UVB (burning) rays that damage the skin more intense. Toss in sunlight reflecting off the snow’s surface, and your UV exposure can be double the normal levels.
“Here’s your daily schedule,” says Dr. Key. “Wake up, shower, shave and use your moisturizer.” Winter is dryer than summer and your body has a tougher time releasing its natural oils, so moisturizing is essential for preventing wind burns, cracking and other skin damage. “Next step, put on a sunscreen with UVA/UVB block and a minimum SPF of 30 or 45. To be effective, sunscreen application should be a half hour to an hour prior to sun exposure, and reapply before going up again in the afternoon.”
Why reapply? No sunscreen is waterproof, only water-resistant, and because skin dries quickly at higher altitudes, most skiers don’t realize that they’re sweating it off. Increasing your SPF level won’t change that, and in fact the chemicals needed to manufacture a higher SPF can irritate the skin, so sticking within the 30 to 50 range and reapplying often is a safe bet.
Finally, don’t forget your head. The sun’s glare can penetrate thinning hair and you don’t want skin cancer on your scalp. Sunglasses and a hat with a bill are good options. “A hat offers protection for the upper eye, forehead and bald spot. Then you can cover the nose, around the edges of the eyes and the rest of the face with sunscreen. This is also my suggestion if someone doesn’t like wearing sunblocks because it runs into their eyes.”
ESSENTIALS WE LOVE
Dermatone SPF 30 Skin Protectant with Z-cote
Dermatone makes really great products to fight frostbite, chapping and more, but this cool little tin provides broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays. And even though it has the same kind of zinc-oxide surfers sport on their noses during summer, this light, non-greasy, 100 percent water-free formulation blends in clear on skin. It’s great for outdoor sports activities.
Rocky Mountain Sunscreen SPF 50
This is a chemical sunscreen, which basically means it takes the light energy from the sun, absorbs it, and turns it into harmless thermal energy. While chemical sunscreens can irritate some skin types, other people (like us) really love them, and the Rocky Mountain formula comes in a pocket size tube for easy carry and application throughout a day. While it feels somewhat heavier than other brands, it’s hypoallergenic, dermatologist tested, fragrance free, greaseless, and non-comedogenic (won’t clog pores and create blackheads).
Skinceuticals Active Use Broad-spectrum UVA/UVB Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50
SkinCeuticals is a higher-end brand, but if you have sensitive skin or just want to pamper your face, this is the one to get. It’s a water-resistant cream specifically designed for outdoor activity, containing transparent zinc oxide for UVA/UVB protection, but without leaving any chalky white residue. Also non-comedogenic.
ChapStick Ultra 30
This one might seem pretty basic, but the inexpensive household brand offers fantastic protection for the highly sensitive skin on your lips. ChapStick filters UVA and UVB rays, moisturizes with aloe and Vitamin E and contains a 30 SPF. “Cracking, dry lips during winter is really a problem, so most importantly, you need to incorporate a sunscreen in your lip balm,” says Dr. Key. “Definitely choose something with at least an SPF 15 and reapply [regularly] because they’re not terribly waterproof.”