Preventing wind burn on long runs, ski trips and other winter adventures

Every winter, I turn into a psuedo-reptile. My skin, sensitive under the best of circumstances, changes in chameleon-like fashion from pink to bright red immediately after it’s exposed to cold air on ski trips and long runs. It stays that way until it peels off mid-week, revealing shiny, new skin just in time for the weekend, when I start the whole process again.

On the upside, my friend Jessica points out that “some women pay a lot of money for that,” referring to expensive chemical peels to slough old, dead skin cells. The downside: It hurts, and looks like crap throughout the week.

Though I won’t have to deal with this much again this winter, thanks to a season-ending ACL tear, I wanted to share what I learned about how to prevent wind burn.

Tip No. 1, which I already knew: Cover up. Make sure you have a neck gaiter, bandana or other face-covering before braving the elements.

My purple neck gaiter serves as the first line of defense.

Tip No. 2, which I knew but hadn’t put into practice: Slather on moisturizer, petroleum jelly, sunscreen—whatever. Just add an extra layer of protection between your skin and the wind. Some favorite products, cribbed from posts on The Ski Diva and a helpful SKI magazine story:

Kiehl’s All-Sport “Non-Freeze” Face Protector

Weleda Face Balm.

Dermatone, allegedly used on Everest?

Or, my personal favorite, which led to the first peel-free ski weekend a few weeks ago: Plain ol’ Neutrogena Sport Face SPF 70 sunscreen. It’s cheap, available almost everywhere, and required only one re-application for a dawn-to-dusk ski day. I’m looking forward to trying it on a long run, too.

What’s your best protection against wind burn?


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3 responses to “Preventing wind burn on long runs, ski trips and other winter adventures

  1. I like the idea of the “sport face.” I also cant go without my chapstick and occasional sunglasses, esp when it’s freezing cold, snowing and windy. And, as you mentioned, cover up!

  2. In extremely windy, cold, or wet conditions I use BodyGlide on my face. It’s like chapstick so I’m sure it could clog pores, but it works like a charm.
    Now if only I could find something that would prevent me from standing so close to the post-trail run campfires so my face wouldn’t get dried out from the heat!

  3. Pingback: Repairing Wind Burn | Snow Mobile VT

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