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Your Windburn Survival Guide

The sun isn’t the only weather element that can burn your skin. Winds, no matter how seemingly gentle they may be, can also leave your skin dry, red and irritated. But you have the products and capabilities to effectively treat and prevent windburn on your own.

What Is Windburn?

In skincare circles, windburn is a debated topic. Some say it is its own skin condition caused by the loss of skin’s natural oils and water resulting from exposure to cold, low-moisture air. Some say it’s the same thing as sunburn because wind-affected skin is more susceptible to UV damage.

It really doesn’t matter if windburn is or isn’t its own thing. The bottom line is it hurts, and sometimes it causes peeling, and that’s annoying and embarrassing. So, what you really need to know is how to take care of it.

How to Relieve and Treat Windburn

Because windburn may be sunburn, treatment is essentially identical:

  • Soothe irritation
    For severe windburn, you may opt for OTC pain relievers/anti-inflammatories, like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. For mild cases, moisture-replenishing topicals are all you need.
  • Replenish hydration and moisture
    Cold, dry air increases surface-level evaporation, so you need to restore and protect your skin’s water space. Apply a hydrating serum and follow with a moisturizer that contains one or more non-comedogenic oils.
  • Facilitate skin damage repair
    Give your skin a good dose of antioxidants so that it can mitigate and reverse oxidative damage. You may opt for a separate Vitamin C serum or treatment or use a moisturizer with active antioxidizing ingredients.

While your skin is recovering from windburn, AVOID:

  • Exfoliating
  • Chemical peels
  • Alpha hydroxy acids

Only use lukewarm water when cleansing your face and avoid hot showers.

How to Prevent Windburn

The same strategies you use to prevent sunburn are effective in preventing windburn, too. Before heading out into the cold:

  • Apply broad-spectrum sun protection with a minimum of SPF 15
  • Cover your face with a scarf
  • Wear sunglasses
  • Wear long pants, long sleeves and gloves to minimize skin exposed to the elements

Keeping your skin adequately hydrated will also reduce any effects you may feel after being in the wind or sun, so drink plenty of water.

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