The rocky mountains of Colorado are majestic and snowcapped most of the year, with sunshine, fresh mountain air, and low humidity providing a remarkable experience in the summer and incredible conditions for the winter ski season.
Enjoying life in the beauty of the high country in high elevations has its challenges. Many are aware of the potential for altitude sickness, but may be less informed about the impact of high altitude and dry climate on skin.
These conditions can cause a noticeable difference in skin after just a few hours, and markedly so within a couple days of exposure to any high elevation and low humidity destination. Thankfully, there are easy steps to combat dry skin while participating in the wonders the mountains have to offer.
Elevate your moisture to maintain your glow
Many people find a moisturizer for humid climates doesn’t get the job done at high altitudes. Using a moisturizer alone will not
be enough. Layering is the key! Keep in mind, humidity levels are often around 20 percent. That’s lower than many desert climates. The skin starts to lose moisture when the humidity drops below 60 percent.
First, use a gentle cleanser, so you are not stripping your skin of its natural moisture. Second, layer a hydrating serum under your moisturizer. Applying a serum containing hyaluronic acid will help prevent moisture loss. Third, layer a moisturizer on top of the serum to provide additional hydration. This may be a cream or a facial oil, both will help soothe the dryness and seal in moisture. Squalane oil and omega oils are great for protecting and hydrating the skin in extreme climates.
No matter the season, you lose moisture from all of your skin, not just your face. Lotion for your body and creams for your hands and feet are a must! Choose a body lotion with quality ingredients proven to provide hydration (hyaluronic acid and squalane are two such ingredients) and help rehydrate your skin to make you more comfortable. Look for Shea butter in hand or foot cream, to aid in managing the extreme environment. Avoid products with mineral oil.
Eyes and lips
You may notice more fine lines around the eyes within a day or two of being at high altitude. Use a hydrating eye cream to relieve excessive dryness of the thin, fragile skin around your eyes. Layer a serum under the eye cream and oil on top for maximum hydration and relief.
Lips don’t produce their own moisture. Regular use of hydrating and protecting lip balms and oils is necessary to prevent dry, cracked lips.
Protection from the sun
Sun protection is always important, but it’s vital to understand the sun’s impact at high altitudes. Be aware that for every thousand-foot increase in elevation, UV radiation increases by 10 to 20 percent. At 10,000 feet, you are hiking at the same altitude you are allowed to move about the airplane without your seatbelt! Another way of putting it, you are two miles closer to the sun than at sea level. Be aware that the reflection off snow increases the UV intensity even more!
Wear sunscreen, reapply often even on a cloudy day!
Spray sunscreen that is easy to reapply will help you stay out of trouble. Don’t forget when driving to protect the back of your hands, your ears, and your neck. These areas are often neglected, especially when the temperatures are cool and mild.
Antioxidants compliment sunscreen by warding off the free radical damage that sunscreens don’t completely block. Serums with Vitamins C and E can be healing, moisturizing, and help prevent additional damage from sun exposure.
For glowing skin
Exfoliate: Lactic acid gently way removes dead skin and is gentle enough for sensitive skin. Oxygen: Applying an oxygen mask to replenish and revitalize your skin can be an easy fix. Also, consider treating yourself to a relaxing facial that takes the altitude into consideration.
Nourish your body
Drink plenty of water. It will certainly benefit your skin and your entire body. Dehydration may cause other health issues, which can impact the skin. Be aware of your diet as well. Enjoying a diet rich in omegas, good fats, and proteins will boost the health of your skin! Healthy, hydrated skin, glows!
Connie Elder, lives and works at 10,000 feet. She is the CEO of PEAK 10 SKIN® a brand of spa products for the face & body.