The icy temperatures and presence of snow all around might fool you, but make no mistake – you’re more likely to get burnt on the slopes than you are on your next beach holiday. Why?
Well, the brilliant white of the powder underfoot acts as the perfect reflector for the sun’s rays, meaning you’ll be hit from both above and below. Meanwhile, air at higher altitude is purer from contaminants, which means it may be great for your lungs but it’s not so hot at filtering out the powerful ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun, which are the culprits behind sunburn and skin cancer.
In fact, it’s estimated that for every increase in 1,000ft in altitude, the sun’s rays strengthen by about 5%. In order to protect yourself from these damaging rays in both the short and long term, it’s vital you follow these simple steps to keep your skin unblemished and your health unaffected.
1) Avoid the heat of the day
The sun is at its most powerful when it’s highest in the sky, which normally occurs sometime between 10am and 3pm depending on the season and your geographical location. Therefore, skiing in the early morning or late afternoon will sidestep this most dangerous window, allowing you to enjoy your time on the slopes with greater peace of mind.
2) Cover up
It might sound overly obvious, but wearing extra clothing is the best way to keep your skin safe from harmful UV rays. This is especially pertinent when skiing on a hot day, as you might be tempted to strip off and discard the ski suit – but doing so is a big no-no. Apart from the protection against crashes that this padding provides, it’s also great at covering up exposed skin. If you’re really sweltering, go for a skin-tight alternative made out of breathable Lycra or Spandex.
3) Wear sunscreen
Baz Luhrmann said it best: there is really no better advice than to liberally apply sun cream before stepping outside and then keep reapplying it through the day. Look out for specialised ski sun protection creams, which can contain moisturisers and other agents that help to boost the skin’s natural defences against sun damage.
4) Strap on those sunglasses
A good pair of ski sunglasses will not only protect your eyes from the harsh glare of the sun itself, but also the skin around them which can often be too sensitive to apply sun cream properly. For the best sunglasses for skiing, ensure you have a pair with a UV400 rating on their lenses, which is specially designed to filter out 99.9% of harmful rays.
5) Carry a chapstick at all times
It’s not just important to protect your skin – it’s also essential not to forget about your lips, as well. Shiny lipsticks which contain a lot of gloss may look great for reflecting the sun’s rays away – but they can also direct it towards delicate tissues inside the mouth itself and should be avoided altogether. A lip balm or chapstick with inbuilt SPF protection is ideal.
Don’t be put off by the sun
There’s no doubt that exposure to the sun can have damaging effects on your skin, but following the above guidelines should ensure you stay safe on the slopes. Don’t let a little bit of sunshine put you off! In fact, a beautifully sunny day is the best backdrop to a skiing session – look into your next adventure today.