Ah, the sun is out and you’ve got a weekend free. It’s time to go hiking!
Naturalist John Muir was quoted as saying, “In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.”
Indeed, a hike out in the great outdoors can help ease stress, burn calories, build your muscles, and calm your mind. But it can also do one more thing if you’re not careful: damage your skin.
When you’re hiking, you’re exposing your skin to the elements, which isn’t the best if you want to retain youthful, radiant skin. Fortunately, all you have to do is take a few precautions and you can still enjoy the great outdoors without having to pay for it with any negative effects on your skin.
1. Protect Your Skin from the Sun
You already know that it’s important to use sunscreen when you go hiking, but what you may forget is to reapply that sunscreen at least once every two hours, and more often if you’re sweating. When we’re hiking, we’re often exposed to harsher rays than we are at other times in our lives. Not only are we out for many hours at a time, we’re often out during the most potent hours of sun exposure (10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.) when the sun can do the most damage. If you’re hiking at high altitudes, you’re even more vulnerable to the sun’s rays.
Apply a safe sunscreen with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide with an SPF of at least 30. Make sure you apply it to any skin that will be exposed to the sun, not just your face. Then re-apply every two hours or less, depending on your exertion. It’s also smart not to rely entirely on sunscreen. Wear hats and long sleeves to provide the best protection to your skin. Don’t forget your sunglasses!
2. Guard Against Dull, Dehydrated Skin
It’s easy to get dehydrated when you’re hiking, not only because you’re out in the warm temperatures under the sun, but also because you’re exerting yourself, which means you need to drink more than usual.
Whatever else you take with you on your hike, make sure you take enough water to drink. Then help yourself even more by taking along water-rich snacks like apples, bananas, berries, and carrots. In addition, consider taking along our Rescue + Relief Spray. It’s packed with hydrating, moisturizing ingredients that help hydrate your skin and keep it feeling comfortable all day long. A bonus: it’s also refreshing and cooling and can diminish flushed skin.
3. Watch Out for Bug-Induced Rashes and Itchiness
Getting outdoors means sharing your space with all sorts of insects, some of which may see you as a meal. It’s important to protect yourself against these pests not only to avoid bites and disease, but to keep your skin from suffering inflammation, swelling, pain, and rashes.
Find a bug repellant that contains DEET and picaridin, as these are the two most effective bug repellants, particularly against dangerous mosquitoes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that both of these ingredients are safe for children over the age of two months. Just be sure that it doesn’t get into anyone’s eyes or mouth. Use wipes instead of sprays for the face. Again, use light clothing to protect your skin as much as you can, and avoid using perfumes or body sprays as they can attract bugs to you.
Finally, apply your sunscreen before you apply insect repellent.
4. Keep Sweat Under Control
When you’re out hiking and working, you’re going to sweat, and that can create problems on your skin if you’re not managing it well. As it pools into the crevices of your body, it can lead to blisters, irritated skin, and even acne breakouts.
To help prevent these uncomfortable outcomes, be sure to wear moisture-wicking fabrics that help the sweat evaporate away from your skin. Look for polyester and other synthetic fibers, as well as merino wool. Use an absorbent headband or bandana to keep sweat from dripping down into your face, and look for highly absorbent hats.
When you stop to rest, wipe down sweaty skin areas with an absorbent, quick-dry towel. Be particularly attentive to areas that can suffer from chafing, including under the breasts, in creases around the groin, and in areas around your waistband. You can attach the towel to your pack between stops so it can air dry.
5. Take Care of Redness and Other Issues When You Get Home
When you get back home, even if you were careful, you may still be dealing with some redness, dryness, or other issues. If you’re skin is actually burned, start with aloe vera to relieve the pain and inflammation. Then you can spray on some cooling Rescue + Relief Spray to help immediately cool and soothe the skin. (Tip: store it in the refrigerator for extra cooling effects.)
If you were unlucky enough to get any insect bites, use calamine lotion to calm the itch, and try not to scratch as that can increase inflammation and risk for infection. (Tip: Our Rescue + Relie Spray also helps quell itch and irritation from bug bites and poison ivy.) Treat blisters with blister bandages or liquid bandages. If you’re camping overnight after your hike, make sure you have a first-aid kit that contains the products mentioned here so you can take care of your skin immediately.
One more tip: Leave the makeup at home! When your outdoors sweating, what looks good at the start of the hike is likely to look disappointing later, plus makeup can get into your pores and cause acne and other skin problems. Use your best skin care and enjoy the all-natural look.
How do you protect your skin when hiking?