What if I was to tell you that as you are headed down the slopes this winter, you are being exposed to almost twice the amount of UV rays than usual? Yes, this is true! Not only are you receiving direct exposure from the sun, but also around 80% of those rays are bouncing off the surface of the snow and back at your skin! To further complicate things, the strength of UV radiation increases with elevation. Sun exposure, wind exposure, and chilling temperatures can damage the skin, leading to sensitivities and pre-mature aging. No one should be giving up the health benefits from skiing and snowboarding, but steps should be taken to protect the health of the skin. 1. Use an emollient rich moisturizer or lotion to create a protective layer against outdoor conditions and protect skin against cracking, drying and redness due to over sensitization. 2. Sun protection is a must! Apply a broad spectrum or a PA sunscreen 20 minutes prior to exposure. Reapplication is crucial throughout the day. Harsh winds, wet conditions and sweating can break down sunscreens more quickly than normal so be diligent about reapplying every 90 minutes or less. 3. Do not forget your lips. The skin on the lips is thinner than most of the skin on the rest of the face, making it more susceptible to damage from winds, low temperatures and sunburn. Harsh conditions will easily lead to uncomfortable and unsightly chapped lips. A very common place on the face for skin cancer is the lips, as they are commonly forgotten, and rarely protected. Use a lip balm with at least an SPF of 15, though an SPF of 30 is ideal. Keep it in a zipped pocket and reapply often. 4. Wear protective clothing and eyewear. Dark clothing, layered fabrics and thicker fabrics will filter out more UV rays. Wear protective clothing around your neck and face. Do not go without gloves, wear a hat to protect your scalp and ears, and make sure your goggles are UV protectant. 5. Limit your exposure. Avoid peek hours of UV exposure by getting to the mountain in the early hours of the morning, or waiting until the late afternoon or early evening. 6. If your skin is red, blotchy, tingling and or numb, it is time to take a break and warm up indoors. This is a sign of frostnip, not as serious as frostbite but a precursor and a warning. These tips should insure you are having fun this winter while maintaining and protecting the health of your skin. So strap on the bindings, click into those skis and enjoy!