For two weeks, the world watched the best athletes in the world soar down the Sochi slopes on skis and snowboards. To the 3,000 competitors (and the thousands more who’ve ventured to Russia to cheer them on), taking first place in the Olympic Games is the number-one priority. But there’s one even more pressing concern that every athlete and spectator should be putting first, and that’s keeping their skin safe from the harsh winter conditions.
Though Sochi’s weather was relatively mild for the duration of the games, dry air inside and chilly winds outside can deplete your body of its natural moisture. When this happens, you get itchy. You get flaky. Your skin cracks, leading to discomfort, pain and sometimes even bleeding.
So how can you protect your body from winter’s wrath, whether you’re out on the slopes or in on the sofa? Try these five tips for keeping your skin in tip-top shape during the snowy season.
1. Opt for oil in your ointments.
Lotion is good, but oil-based ointments tend to be better at locking the hydration into your skin. Because they can form a protective layer on the surface, less moisture escapes through dry air and blustery winds, keeping your skin hydrated for longer. Plus, as Team USA’s star snowboarder Jamie Anderson points out, Chapstick is a must! For her, anyway. You can opt for a different brand of lip balm, and any one will do -- as long as it feels good to you.
2. Stay smart in the shower.
We all know how good a nice hot shower feels after a day spent battling the elements outside. But the more time you spend under the faucet, the more damage you could be doing to your skin. That’s why experts recommend quick showers of no more than five or 10 minutes in length. The American Academy of Dermatology says that’s the right amount of time to add enough moisture to your skin, but staying in any longer might dry it out. Plus, it helps to go with fragrance-free gels and soaps, because they tend to moisturize better.
3. Don’t forget about the sun!
Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you can act like the sun has completely disappeared. USA Today recommends wearing sunscreen just as you would in the summertime if you’re planning to be outside for a few hours watching Olympians compete, or if you’ve taken to the slopes yourself. Also, one of the quickest ways to damage your eyes is to forget sunglasses, and when light is being reflected off all the snow piles around you, you’re going to need some serious protection. Sunglass lenses will keep your corneas safe and reduce eyestrain while keeping things stylish.
4. Keep your hands covered.
In the winter, our hands tend to take the brunt of the weather-induced damage. Smooth palms turn into rough, cracked wastelands when not properly protected in a pair of gloves. But danger lurks inside, too, especially when we wash our hands too frequently, draining out all the moisture in the process. In order to fight this hydration loss, reapply new hand cream after every wash, but remember to opt for the oil-based stuff, not the standard lotions. Finding gloves that won’t irritate your skin will help, too.
5. Layer up your outfits.
Always bundle up before you venture out into the cold, but don’t just rely on a T-shirt under a large, puffy coat, GR Health suggests. Wear layers so you can adapt to various different temperature circumstances inside and out. Start small with breathable layers, then add warmer clothes like sweaters over them. And don’t forget your scarf, either! Layering clothes tends to prevent overheating, which can often lead to itchiness, and that’s bad news for trying to maintain a happy, healthy, hydrated body.
When the snowy weather starts and you’re stuck outside, it’s not only about staying warm -- it’s also about keeping your skin as moisturized as you can. For those on the slopes and those on the sofa, remember to take care this winter. After all, spring is only a few short days away.