The beauty of skiing isn’t all about the view. Sophie Qureshi reveals how to look good on the slopes.
There are lots of things I love about a ski holiday – the excitement and adventure, the fresh mountain air, the brandy hot chocolate, the fondue. But there are a few things that dampen my enthusiasm slightly – chapped, cracked lips, red-raw skin, muscles so stiff I can barely throw myself into a chairlift. Having been on a fair few ski trips now, though, I’ve become a bit of a master – not at skiing (I’m still on the blues)but at beating the elements at their own game.
The secret is in a little bit of prep and getting your kit right. You wouldn’t set off up the slopes without skis or poles and expect things to go well, and the same goes for your beauty kit. Invest in a few essentials and you’ll look great on the slopes, however poor your pole-turns. The most important thing is a good sunblock because nothing singles out the novice as much as goggle-shaped sunburn. It’s easy to let the cold fool you into thinking the sun isn’t strong, but snow reflects almost four times the amount of UV that sand does, so you’re actually much more at risk than you are on a beach. UV also gets more powerful with altitude – it increases about five per cent for every 1,000 feet you ascend.
Dermatologist Dr Sam Bunting advises one with a minimum of five per cent Zinc Oxide, such as Obagi Sun Shield SPF50 , £60, or SkinCeuticals Mineral Radiance UV Defense SPF50, £35. ‘Zinc Oxide gives fantastic protection against UVA, which is challenging to screen out completely,’ she says.
I also like Lancaster Sun Sport Ski Wind & Cold Protection Comfort Cream SPF50, £21, and Garnier Ambre Solaire UV SKI SPF20, £6.99, which contain nourishing ingredients such as shea butter and vitamin E to protect from the cold as well. Remember that, however good your sunscreen, you still need to reapply. Pro US skier Julia Mancuso has a useful tip: keep your sunscreen with your water so that every time you have a drink, it reminds you to put on more. Stash a small stick such as La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL SPF50+ Stick, £4.99, in the pocket of your ski jacket so you can quickly swipe sun-sensitive areas without having to take your gloves off.
If getting the kids to submit to sunblock is more of a battle, a coloured lotion like Garnier Ambre Solaire Kids Resisto Coloured Lotion SPF50+ Stick, £12.99, might make the process less painful. Being slathered in green stuff is strangely appealing at a certain age and, at the very least, you’ll be able to see where you’ve applied it, so you’ll be confident they’re fully protected when you pack them off to ski school.
Now you’ve got the sun protection sorted, the only other risk you face (broken limbs aside) is having your lipid barrier torn to shreds by icy cold winds. This protective layer prevents moisture loss from your skin – and damaging it leaves skin even more open to assault from the elements. ‘Freezing-cold air cannot hold moisture so the humidity is low, which leads to dry, desiccated skin that can actually crack open,’ says Dr Sam Bunting.
So what’s the answer (bar attaching a humidifier to the front of one ski)? Cover up as much as you can with a mask and goggles, and use a moisturiser that’s specifically designed to fortify your skin’s defences, such as Dermalogica Barrier Repair, £35.60. This one is particularly good for icy temperatures because it’s water-free, so won’t freeze on your face. If you do get ravaged by a blizzard, Eucerin Aquaphor Smoothing Skin Balm, £8.50, is the one for the job – you can use it on all the familyand it speeds up the skin’s natural regeneration to heal any chapped, cracked sore bits. Dab a little around your nose before you hit the slopesand it works brilliantly to prevent red nose days, too.
At night, you can’t beat a good face oil. Oils pass through the lipid layer of your skin much more easily than creams, so they’re more effective at hydrating and preventing moisture loss. I swear by Liz Earle Superskin Concentrate , £20, and Rodin Olio Lusso Face Oil , £97 (yes, it’s expensive but you only need four drops). If your skin is particularly parched, massage the oil all over your face and then layer your moisturiser on top. Elemental Herbology Facial Soufflé Overnight Creme, £47, is an excellent candidate – it’s packed with essential fatty acids to improve the barrier function of your skin and leave it plump and glowing.
It’s also worth packing a couple of indulgences for your body (they’ll feel more like essentials when you’re hobbling away from the boot room). Once the kids are tucked up in bed, a soak with Aromatherapy Associates De-Stress Muscle Bath & Shower Oil, £39, will ease aches and pains and revive you enough for après-ski. If you skimped on the pre-skiing lunges, follow up with Elemis Instant Refreshing Gel, £29.50, on stiff calves and thighs. The menthol and camphor work miracles to placate muscles that have been forced out of hibernation. You’ll wake raring for fresh powder... Now, I can’t end a feature about ski beauty without touching on the great make-up debate: is it acceptable to glam up for the slopes? Or is that far too wannabe ski-bunny? The solution lies in a little stealth-beauty. Bare Minerals SPF30 Natural Sunscreen , £25, is a skin-toned powder that evens out your complexionbut passes the vanity test because primarily it’s a sunblock. And if you’re going to use a protective lip balm, why not a pretty tinted one such as Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Lip Protectant Stick Sheer Tint, £20.
Just save the mascara and blush for après – if you don’t have a rosy enough glow already, that is. Now where’s that vin chaud?