You just finished a heart-pumping ride down the mountain, feeling the chill in the air as the sweat cools on your skin. It’s time to head inside, peel off the layers, and give your skin some TLC after exposure to the harsh winter elements. As an avid mountain biker, winter riding means battling dry air, cold winds, and mud splatter. Your skin takes a beating, so having a solid skincare routine to repair and protect is essential. Follow this guide to keep your skin hydrated, soothed, and ready for the next adventure on the trails. With suitable moisturisers and mud treatments in your arsenal, you’ll stay out riding all season long without worrying about the effects of winter on your skin. Read on to discover some pro tips and product recommendations from fellow mountain bikers who know how to combat the harshest winter conditions while still getting their fix of adrenaline on the downhill. Your skin and your rides will thank you.
The Drying Effects of Cold Weather Riding
The cold, dry air during winter mountain biking can affect your skin. All that wind and temperature-induced dehydration leads to irritation, itchiness, and flaking. But with the proper skincare routine, you can combat the effects and keep your face moisturised and comfortable no matter how long you’re out on the trails.
The Drying Effects of Cold Weather Riding
When riding in frigid temps, the moisture in your skin evaporates faster due to the low humidity. This depletes the natural oils in your skin that keep it hydrated and supple. The result? Rough, red patches, tightness, and peeling skin – especially on your face, hands, and other exposed areas.
To prevent discomfort and irritation, start hydrating from the inside out. Drink water before and during your ride to keep your skin cells saturated. Apply a rich, fragrance-free moisturiser right after washing your face to lock in hydration. Look for natural hydrating ingredients like sweet almonds, glycerin, shea butter, hemp oil, and beeswax.
Wear insulated gloves, a balaclava, and other protective gear to shield your skin from the elements during your ride. Reapply lip balm and hand cream frequently – they tend to absorb into your skin quickly in cold, dry weather.
When you get home after a ride, jump in a warm shower or bath to raise your body temperature and open up your pores. Pat yourself dry instead of rubbing with a towel, and immediately apply a thick moisturiser to your face, hands, and any other exposed or irritated areas. Your skin will soak it right up! Proper precautions allow you to enjoy riding all winter without dry, cracked skin discomfort.
Protecting Your Skin From Sun and Wind Exposure
Protecting your skin from the elements is critical for any winter mountain biker. Your skin takes a beating between the sun, wind, and freezing temperatures. Here are some tips to keep it in riding shape:
Always wear sunscreen, even on overcast days. The sun’s UV rays still reach the ground and can cause damage. Look for a natural broad-spectrum sunscreen and reapply every 2 hours.
Protect your lips, too. Apply lip balm with SPF before heading out. The wind and sun can easily chap your lips, leaving them dry and cracked.
Cover up when possible. Wear gloves, neck warmers, hats, and eyewear to shield your skin from the wind and sun. Look for pieces made of breathable fabrics like polypropylene that wick away moisture.
Moisturise daily. Use a rich moisturiser on your face and body, especially after riding. Look for hydrating ingredients like almond oil, glycerin, borage and hemp oils. Thicker ointments and balms containing shea butter, coconut oil, beeswax, and lanolin can soothe and protect wind-chapped skin.
Rinse off immediately after riding. Get in the shower when you return and rinse away any dirt, sweat, or sunscreen. Pat yourself dry instead of rubbing vigorously with a towel. Then moisturise within 3 minutes of getting out of the shower to lock in hydration.
Following these tips will help you enjoy winter mountain biking to the fullest while keeping your skin healthy and protected from the elements. Bundle up, slather on the sunscreen and lip balm, and get ready to ride!
Choosing the Right Moisturiser for Your Skin
Choosing a moisturiser that suits your skin type is vital to keeping your face hydrated and healthy during winter riding. Whether your skin tends to be oily, dry or sensitive, there’s an option for you.
Oily or Acne-Prone Skin
If your skin is oily or prone to breakouts, look for an oil-free, non-comedogenic moisturiser that won’t clog pores. Gel or serum formulas absorb quickly without leaving a greasy feel. Ingredients like salicylic acid can help combat acne while hydrating. Lightweight lotions containing borage oil or glycerin provide hydration without the heavy oils.
Dry or Dehydrated Skin
A richer cream or balm provides intense hydration for dry, dehydrated or flaky skin. Look for formulas containing hydrating, hemp oil, coconut oil, shea butter, jojoba oil or sweet almond oil. Occlusives like beeswax and lanolin seal in moisture. Slather on a thick layer before bed and a daily moisturiser with SPF to protect from sun and wind damage. Ensure your SPF is water-resistant.
If your skin is easily irritated, fragrance-free and sulfate-free, moisturisers are your friends. Calming ingredients like beeswax, borage oil, cocoa butter and glycerin soothe inflammation and redness. Barrier creams strengthen skin and lock in hydration.
No matter your skin type, be sure to exfoliate regularly, use a broad-spectrum SPF, stay hydrated and consider wearing face masks or balaclavas on icy rides. Finding the right moisturiser is critical to keeping your skin healthy, hydrated and ready to face the elements. After a mud-spattered ride, treat your skin to a pampering mask to replenish the lost moisture you’ve earned!
Targeting Specific Areas Prone to Chapping
When mountain biking, especially your lips and hands, your face takes the brunt of winter’s harsh elements. Keeping these areas hydrated and protected is vital.
Your lips can quickly become chapped from wind and cold, so keep a lip balm with SPF in your pack. Look for a balm containing hydrating ingredients like shea butter, hemp oil, beeswax, and vitamin E. Avoid fragrances which can irritate sensitive skin. Reapply frequently, especially after eating or drinking.
Invest in insulated gloves or mittens to protect your hands, but also pack hand warmers, hand cream, and ointment. Apply a rich cream after riding to hydrate and soothe your hands. For cracked or chapped skin, use an ointment containing hydrating and healing ingredients like shea butter, cocoa butter, beeswax, olive oil, coconut oil, rosehip oil or lanolin. Wear gloves or mittens over the ointment and leave on overnight. This will help heal your hands while you sleep.
Moisturising just your lips and hands may not be enough. Your entire face is exposed to the elements, too. Use a daily moisturiser under your helmet to hydrate and protect your skin from windburn. This will draw moisture into your skin. Reapply moisturiser and rehydrate throughout your ride.
Other areas like your neck, ears or eyelids may also dry or irritate. Target these spots with an ointment to relieve chapping and redness. Shea butter or coconut oil works well to soothe and protect sensitive areas.
With the right products and frequent reapplication, you can enjoy winter mountain biking without your face feeling like it’s been dragged over rough terrain. Keeping your skin hydrated and protected will allow you to focus on navigating trails, not discomfort from the elements. Staying on top of moisturising targeted areas prone to chapping is critical to keeping your face feeling fresh on the coldest rides.
Washing Off Dirt, Mud, and Debris After Each Ride
After riding through mud and dirt, it is essential to properly clean your bike and body to avoid irritation and damage.
Wash Your Bike
Hose down your bike to remove large clumps of mud and debris. Use a degreaser to cut through the grime on your chain and cassettes. Scrub your tires, wheels and frame with a bristled brush and bike-specific degreaser or dish soap. Rinse everything thoroughly with water to remove all soap residue. Dry your bike with a towel to prevent water spots before lubricating the chain.
As soon as you get home from your ride, hop in the shower. Use a mild cleanser to wash away dirt and oils from your face and body—Exfoliate rough, callused areas like elbows and knees. Moisturise your entire body, especially your hands, to hydrate the skin and soothe any irritation from the elements.
Wash Your Gear
Remove pads, guards and any washable layers and throw them in the laundry. Use a heavy-duty detergent and the warmest water setting recommended on the care tags. Add a 1/2 cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle to remove odours from your gear. Air-dry everything completely to prevent mildew growth before storing it for your next ride.
Moisturize Hands and Face
The cold winter air can chap and dehydrate exposed skin. Apply a rich moisturiser, balm or ointment, especially one containing hydrating and soothing ingredients like shea butter, jojoba oil, beeswax, cocoa butter, olive oil, coconut oil or lanolin to hydrate your hands, lips and face. Reapply as needed, especially after washing hands.
Keeping your bike, body and gear clean after muddy rides will make winter mountain biking much more enjoyable. Schedule extra time after rides to properly wash and moisturise to avoid discomfort from dry, irritated skin and a grimy, dirt-caked bike. Your body and bike will thank you!
Biking the Trails – Protecting Your Skin
So, there are a few simple tips to keep your skin from drying out and cracking this winter while still hitting the trails. Protecting your skin doesn’t have to be complicated or cut into your riding time. Invest in a quality moisturiser formulated for active use and harsh weather, layer up, drink plenty of water, and take shorter but more frequent showers. Your skin will thank you, and you’ll be able to enjoy riding all season long without worrying about the effects of freezing temps and high winds. Staying comfortable is vital to maximising your time on the bike, so prioritise skincare and get out there! The trails are calling.
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