How To Look Good On The Slope
MR PORTER’s guide to ensuring your skin survives the ski trip
High altitude brings with it an anaesthetising level of wind chill, low humidity and exposure to ultraviolet rays, 80 per cent of which will bounce off the pristine white snow and onto that tiny amount of exposed facial skin. Couple the inclement weather with incessant sweating while being hermetically sealed in a Kjus 7sphere ski suit, and it is more than likely you will morph into a well-dressed abominable snowman at some point during your skiing holiday. And if there’s one thing guaranteed to ruin your high-octane Mr Glen Plake moment, it’s unintentionally mimicking Mr Glen Plake’s hair.
With a few of our tried-and-tested preventive measures, you can make your way to the chairlift with confidence.
WEAR FULL COVER
If you’ve ever been temporarily blinded while making your way down the piste, you’ll know that a) you need to invest in better goggles and b) the sun is particularly intense at glacier altitude. For every 1,000ft you go above sea level, exposure to UV radiation increases by four to five per cent. To make matters worse, most of those UV rays will bounce right off the snow, giving you two hits of skin-crisping radiation.
A broad-spectrum sunscreen – applied liberally to exposed skin at least 30 minutes before going outdoors – is therefore obligatory. Having said that, not all sunscreens can withstand the brutality of the elements, let alone your sweat.
Hampton Sun SPF 30 lotion provides adequate protection and packs in jojoba and walnut oil along with vitamin E to help keep skin moisturised in extreme climates. Malin + Goetz SPF30 Face Moisturizer may be less conventional, but the innovative liquid format is ideal for sensitive skins that react adversely to traditional sunscreens. It also packs in a hefty SPF 50 that repairs as it protects. Just be sure to mix the formula with your ski-friendly moisturiser.
It is almost guaranteed that the biting wind will sabotage your skin’s protective barrier and suck all the moisture from your face. The result? Highly sensitised, itchy skin that feels tighter than a gnat’s chuff. This water deficit isn’t helped by alternating between sub-zero temperatures on the slopes and the toasty interior of a chalet. Hot showers, while highly satisfying, also deplete your skin of its essential moisture.
It follows, then, that the most obvious tweak you’ll need to make to your grooming routine will come in the form of an upgraded moisturiser (along with necking gallons of water at every opportunity). A nourishing oil-based moisturiser that mimics the skin’s lipid barrier is a top priority, and they don’t come any more dense or nutrient-rich than La Mer’s signature moisturising cream. Granted, a super-luxe skincare product with a top-secret formula may seem a little excessive for a face that is largely hidden beneath a balaclava, but it’s precisely this kind of pre-emptive approach that will offset the likelihood of chronic desiccation or, even worse, windburn.
BEWARE THE RED FLAG
Rehydrating with a heavy-duty moisturiser is only part of the solution. There is much more to it. You will need to temporarily abandon your miracle skin products because active ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid will do more damage than good when your skin is sensitised.
You’ll also need to forgo any drying or astringent products, such as your usual foaming cleanser. Opt for a cream or balm cleanser that has been formulated for dry or fragile skin instead. M.E. Skin Lab’s Cleanser 27 is a three-phase balm that turns into a gentle milky emulsion when it comes into contact with water. Alternatively, Lab Series MAX LS Daily Renewing Cleanser does a thorough job of dislodging impurities without disrupting the skin’s natural balance.
EASE THE FRIZZ
The parching effects of dry air extend to the follicles on your head, which also have to contend with the tight, damp confines of a protective helmet. Needless to say, hair does not thrive in this sort of environment and will likely become brittle, static, frizzy and – if you’re especially lucky – matted to your forehead. This will surely ruin your Milk Tray moment.
Restorative hair masks or intensive leave-in conditioners are therefore a prerequisite. Try Sachajuan Intensive Repair Conditioner or Malin + Goetz Intensive Hair Conditioner (or, if you haven’t packed properly, a heated tablespoon of olive oil pinched from the chalet kitchen will suffice). Use your formula of choice daily, after every shower and, ideally, before you go to bed. Leave in overnight, wash out in the morning and blow-dry hair using a brush such as D R Harris’s Tortoiseshell Boar Bristle Hairbrush to remove any static. And back under your helmet you go.
Body odour is bearable when wearing loose, sweat-wicking fibres and running outdoors. It’s a different matter altogether when you’re sealed in an impenetrable cocoon of airtight base layers and you can’t escape the smell of your own stress sweats. There are worse ways to go, but asphyxiation in a cloud of your own pits as you balance on a 1,500ft precipice is definitely up there.
The specific bouquet produced by your apocrine glands is largely down to the foods you eat (and, indeed, your ability to digest them properly), so cut back on caffeine and salt, which tend to make you perspire more than is absolutely necessary. An industrial-strength deodorant will go a long way, too. Malin + Goetz Eucalyptus Deodorant contains citronellyl, a clever malodour eliminator, that should make de-layering in public considerably less offensive on the nose.
SUBMIT TO THE DOMS
An afternoon spent on the slopes will more than likely destroy your quads, hamstrings and hip flexors. Showy Instagram types post about the joy of #DOMS (delayed-onset muscle soreness), but the feeling will incapacitate you by day two unless you’re mainlining ibuprofen (which we don’t recommend).
Ice, which just so happens to be readily available on a skiing trip, can be placed on muscles within 24 hours to reduce inflammation. A more sophisticated solution for daredevil-related soreness, however, would be to use a muscle rub or soak. Friction De Foucaud may not resemble most newfangled sports products, but the 70-year-old body tonic does a great job of promoting blood circulation to stressed muscles. The mix of camphor, menthol and essential oils was originally formulated for French military officers in Indochina (modern-day Vietnam) and is still used by cyclists on the Tour de France.
For all the use they get, lips are drastically underserved by the body’s various systems. They don’t have any sebaceous glands to keep them moisturised (hello, chapping) and the protective layer of skin, the stratum corneum, is paper thin and prone to breaking. It stands to reason that they are susceptible to humidity and end up flaking or becoming especially dry, thus impeding other non-ski-related priorities.
As with the skin on your face, your lip balm should have a sun filter (the unsightly zinc cream used by cricketers is especially good) and a dose of vitamin E to help keep them smooth. Ilia Lip Conditioner SPF 15 ticks all the boxes while “superbalm” Lanolips 101 Ointment is ideal for overnight repair.
Note that if skiing leaves your lips burning and sporting vertical cracks, no lip balm in the world is going to help you. Go find a local pharmacy.