Ski and Sun: Essential Tips for Safe Sun Exposure While Skiing

When the landscape transforms into a winter wonderland, gleaming under the bright sun, it beckons outdoor enthusiasts to the slopes. However, amidst the thrill of skiing and snowboarding, the risk of sunburn looms large, often underestimated by many. Contrary to popular belief, sun protection is as crucial on the snowy slopes as it is on the sandy beach. The combination of high altitude and reflective snow surfaces intensifies UV radiation exposure, making effective sun protection indispensable for winter sports aficionados.

Why Sun Protection is Critical for Skiers

Skiing elevates you closer to the sun, significantly reducing the atmospheric layer that filters harmful UV rays. This elevation means increased UV radiation exposure, further amplified by the snow's reflective properties, bombarding your skin from all directions. Particularly vulnerable are the "sun terraces" of your body: the nose, cheeks, ears, lips, and even the scalp.

Top Tips for Sun Safety on the Slopes

Tip 1: Opt for Water-Resistant Sunscreen The dynamic nature of skiing, coupled with sweat and wet snow, can diminish the effectiveness of regular sunscreen. Choose an extra water-resistant formula to ensure lasting protection.

Tip 2: Early Application is Key To prevent sunburns and long-term skin damage, apply sunscreen at least 20 minutes before exposure. This allows the active ingredients to fully absorb into the skin, providing optimal protection.

Tip 3: Regular Reapplication Reapply sunscreen every 1.5 to 2 hours, especially after sweating or touching your face. This maintains the protective barrier against the sun's rays.

Tip 4: The Benefits of Mineral Sunblock For immediate protection, mineral sunblocks containing titanium or zinc create a physical barrier, reflecting UV rays away from the skin.

Tip 5: Choosing the Right SPF A minimum SPF of 30 is recommended for skiing. However, for enhanced protection, especially during spring skiing, an SPF of 50+ with broad-spectrum coverage is advisable.

Tip 6: Sensitive Skin Solutions For those with sensitive skin, opt for hypoallergenic sunscreens free from perfumes, parabens, and alcohol, minimizing the risk of allergic reactions.

How Much Sunscreen is Enough?

A common mistake is underapplying sunscreen. Dermatologists suggest using at least one tablespoon of sunscreen on the face and neck to achieve the advertised SPF protection.

Tip 8: Midday Sun Avoidance The sun's rays are most intense around midday. While avoiding peak hours may be challenging when skiing, wearing protective clothing and accessories, such as helmets and UV-blocking goggles, can offer substantial protection.

Extra Tip: Eye Protection on the Slopes

The eyes are particularly susceptible to UV damage. Proper ski goggles are essential, providing comprehensive protection against UV-A, UV-B, and UV-C rays, unlike regular sunglasses which offer limited coverage.

Managing Sunburn from Skiing

If you find yourself with a sunburn, immediate steps include avoiding further sun exposure and seeking medical advice for severe burns. Cooling the skin gently and staying hydrated can aid in the recovery process.


Sun safety is an often-overlooked aspect of winter sports. By adopting these protective measures, skiers and snowboarders can enjoy the slopes without compromising their skin and eye health. Remember, the right preparation can make all the difference in ensuring a safe and enjoyable winter sports experience.