How to Ski-Proof Your Skin

Think sunburns are bad? Try a sunburn on top of a windburn.
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Think sunburns are bad? Try a sunburn on top of a windburn.
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Ski bums are notoriously gear obsessed. Any corner carver worth his powder will have skis packed with more Kevlar than a Humvee and a jacket with enough pockets to carry Aaron Sorkin’s Emmys and notebooks devoted to Steve Jobs. An aggressive skier’s gloves will be goose-down, and his goggles shiny and orange like an insect’s compound eyes. He will talk about all of his equipment ad nauseum while riding the lift.

But, as good as gloves and goggle technology is, most people still leave the mountain after a hard day of skiing with rough, red faces, chapped lips and dry hands because they’re actually underprepared. Sometimes it’s more about what’s under the various warmers than the warmers themselves. Moisturizing is key. Sunscreen is key. An allyoop flatspin isn’t cool if you’re bleeding from chapped lips while you do it. 

Here’s our quick guide to preparing your skin for the snow. Follow your own path and hope to hell the wind doesn’t kick up.

Hands

Green Circle

L'Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream

“Butter” isn’t a misnomer; L’Occitane’s famous lotion is as rich and silky as Provence’s own cultured milk fat. Sounds gross. Works. [$28, loccitane.com]

Blue Square

Kiehl’s Ultimate Strength Hand Salve

When a hard snow is gonna fall, upgrade to Kiehl’s Hand Salve, a Chobani-thick emulsion of avocado, sesame, and olive oils that leaves your hands glazed against the elements and smelling like an expensive salad. [$22, kiehls.com]

Black Diamond

Burt’s Bees Hand Salve

Nothing seals and protects like wax and no company employs higher quality bees than Burt’s. This hearty salve saves – a backcountry necessity. [$9, burtsbees.com]

Lips

Green Circle

Tom Ford Hydrating Lip Balm

When it comes to lips, petrochemicals are poison. For daily use, stick with Tom Ford’s blend of essential oils and nut butters. [$25, tomford.com]

Blue Square

Baxter of California Hydro Salve Lip Balm

“Hydro-salve” sounds serious and, well, it is. This balm is super-effective without being heavy, and mint, coconut and jojoba oils keep you smelling fresh, not medicinal. [$10, baxterofcalifornia.com]

Black Diamond

Dermatone Lip Balm

Old, cheap, and heavy aren’t usually positive adjectives, but add “insanely long-lasting” and “protective” to the list and you have Dermatone’s classic chunky stick beloved by mountaineers the world over. [$2.69, dermatone.beaumontproduct.com]

Face

Green Circle

Malin and Goetz SPF 30 Moisturizer

Ninety percent of skin aging comes from UV exposure, so why not brace yourself against the ravages of time with this daily SPF and moisturizer? Plus, if green tea does ultimately turn out to have benefits, you’re ahead of the game. [$36, malinandgoetz.com]

Blue Square

Kiehl’s Facial Fuel UV Guard SPF 50

Though Kiehls recommends its UV Guard for daily use, fifty is a whole lot of sun protection factors for every day unless you live in Equatorial Guinea. We’d save Kiehl’s strong stuff for the mountain and the beach. [$38, kiehls.com]

Black Diamond

Vertra Elemental Face Stick SPF 50

So serious, it can’t be squeezed, Vertra’s Face Stick is a quick-drying, rub-on solution meant to applied with one gloved hand. This is Sherpa shit. [$23, vertra.com]

Photos by Isaac Koval / Getty Images