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Cold Weather Skin Care For Cyclists

25 October, 2018

With the last few post on Keeping Your Extremities Warm and Staying Warm On A Cold Ride tackling cold weather kit and gear wear, I wanted to bring you a post on taking care of your skin. The season of drier weather with less humidity brings along with it dehydrated skin. Wherever you live, we all experience chapped lips or flakey itchy body parts. So how do we address parched situations so we can get back that summer cycling glow? Here are a few helpful tips to protecting your skin from cold weather on your rides that may work for you.

Keeping up your water intake is just as important in the colder months when fatigue can often sneak up on you. Even when we don’t feel ourselves sweating, our body is losing waterCan you see your breath when you’re outside in the cold? That’s respiratory fluid loss and it’s one of the major ways our bodies dehydrate in the cold. Refilling an insulated bidon with hot fluids of electrolytes like Scratch Labs Apple Cider mix, hot tea, coffee, or bone broth are great ways to keep you warm and hydrated. 

To combat dry, flaky skin in the winter, you may want to fill up on water based foods such as watermelon, cucumber, celery, carrot, and tomato. In the winter, think of soups concentrated in these water based foods as a nutritious post ride meal. Also reach for foods or a supplement rich in omegas 3’s and GLAs to replenish lost lipids in your skin — walnuts, salmon, sardines, flax seeds, and evening primrose oil all nourish skin from within. Taking a tip from Nordic countries with long winters, a typical winter diet is rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, omega's, antioxidants found in a range of winter leafy and root vegetables like carrots, beets, turnips, and artichokes.

An effort to hyper-hydrate and soothe the skin should never come at the cost of ditching daily sun protection. Sure, you may not see as much of the sun during the next few months, but UVA rays — the aging and cancer-causing rays that penetrate through windows and clouds, and into the deepest layer of skin — are still kicking, all day, every day. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, engaging in winter sports increases your risk of overexposure to dangerous UV rays. To protect skin year round, find a product you can work into your beauty routine without having to think too hard about it.

Cover Up
I’ve covered this topic last week on protecting your extremities from the cold but a reminder of simply covering your exposed parts with windproof gloves, a balaclava or skullcap, shoe covers and clear cycling glasses will go a long way to help protect your extremities skin from windburn and dryness.

You need to cram as much moisture into your skin as possible. “The most hydrating formulas have ingredients like glycerin, ceramides, and hyaluronic acid, that pull water into your skin,” says Jeannette Graf, MD, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. This isn't just for your face, though — your entire body needs more hydration. Look for oil-free moisturizers for the face, and something greasier, and more glycerine-based for the body. 

Moisturizer can be complimented with a recovery serum or balm to assist repairing facial skin after a ride, leaving you with soothed skin the next day.

Lip Balm
Dry lips may be inevitable but don’t toss the need to cover your lips aside. While they will be overexposed, you can combat cracked lips with covering your lips with a thick lip balm with SPF before your ride and consistently applying throughout.

Warm Showers
Please note here that the key term is “warm”. I know we talked about hot bath rituals after a cold ride but in winter “hot” water on your skin should be avoided so you aren’t stripping your body of essential oils needed to keep your body lubricated. Limit your shower to 5-10 mins and immediately apply a moisturizer after drying off.

Some cyclists rely on a secret salve to help adapt to the changing season. Embrocation salves can be used for those cool fall morning rides when leg warmers are too hot to wear but it’s too cold to go bare. Embrocation users swear by its effectiveness in temperatures 50-70 fahrenheit acting like a thin barrier against wind and rain. It is an art to apply and take off so make sure you do your research before applying. If it’s too cold, fleece, warmers, or thermals are your best bet.

For winter moisturizers and products to keep your skin hydrated and from damage, I’ve rounded up a few products. Some of which I love and use everyday and some I only use for winter. 

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