Hiking may be beneficial for the body, but not so much for the skin. The great outdoors can wreak havoc on your skin through sun exposure, bug bites, dehydration, etc. How can you preserve your beautiful skin during wilderness adventures?
Exposure to Harsh Solar Rays
It is imperative to wear sunscreen on a daily basis during every season of the year. Let’s face it: sun exposure is inevitable when you’re hiking. It is especially harsher when you’re at a higher altitude (i.e., hiking on a mountain), which offers all the more reason to wear a broad spectrum sunscreen with at least a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 15. Don’t apply sun care products only on your face—also pay attention to other areas of your body you may not normally think of such as underneath the neck, behind the ears, back of the legs, etc. It would also be wise to wear a hat or visor for additional protection for your face.
Protection Against Pesky Bugs
As enjoyable as hiking can be, there is always a trade off: bugs. Granted, this may not be an issue if you’re hiking in the middle of winter, but if you’re embarking on a rigorous walking adventure on a humid July afternoon, the presence of bugs is highly likely. This may seem like common sense, but spray your skin with an insect repellent over your sunscreen. If you end up getting bitten, soothe the bites and alleviate the itch with a topical solution that contains calamine.
To keep pesky critters at bay, avoid wearing perfumes, colognes and body sprays—especially fruity scents since they attract bugs even more. One of my favorite fragrances is an intoxicating concoction; each morning it is second nature (no pun intended) for me to mist it all over my body. However, if I am engaging in an outdoor activity that day, I regret using that particular fragrance once the pests start swarming around me.
Dull, Dehydrated Skin
During your hike, make sure you stay hydrated by drinking lots of water or sports drinks to replace electrolytes. Avoid snacking on salty foods as doing so can deplete water from your body, thereby causing your skin to look dehydrated. Instead, eat healthful, water-containing snacks such as apples, bananas, berries or carrots. After your adventure, do a DIY facial to give your skin a little post-hike pick-me-up.
If you don’t have time for a full fledged facial, the least you can do for your skin is to exfoliate it after you wash your face. Exfoliation will slough away dead surface cells to reveal a fresher, more radiant looking complexion. After exfoliating, apply a toner, serum, hydrating face cream and eye cream that are formulated for your skin type. In order to determine if a skin care product is ‘hydrating,’ look for certain ingredients on the label that have hydrating properties such as hyaluronic acid, glycerin and honey.
When exposed to the sun for long periods of time—especially during a hiking trip—a sunburn or redness can occur. If this happens during your outdoor excursion (in spite of sunscreen), apply aloe vera gel on the affected areas to soothe the burn. If you are just plain red sans the burn, look for a skin care product that contains calming, anti-inflammatory ingredients such as seaweed or chamomile.
With these skin care tips, there is no need to shy away from your favorite outdoor hobbies. Have fun hiking and stay beautiful!