Skin Saves: What to Do When You Find Yourself With Windburn

Victoria Moorhouse
Ted Smith / Getty Images

Ted Smith / Getty Images

A messy blowout gone astray with fly-aways, static, and frizz is nothing compared to the skin damage a rapidly windy day can do to your skin. We’d gladly take that over windburn any day of the week. This undesirable flush can be hugely uncomfortable and is a common problem we face in the winter months when we’re already battling a slew of annoying skin conditions. Curious to how this aggravating complexion shift even occurs or what windburn is exactly? You know, besides rosy, dry cheeks you didn’t ask for? We consulted the experts and got the lowdown on the cause and cure of this frustrating condition.

“Windburn occurs from severe exposure to dry air. It isn’t a sunburn or a heat burn but caused from the evaporation of moisture from the skin to the environment,” says New York City-based dermatologist Dr. Heidi Waldorf. “It is extreme dry skin. It looks red from inflammation as more superficial blood vessels become visible.”

That visible redness can be combined with physical side effects that Dr. Waldorf says can include burning sensations, itching, pain, and peeling and scaling skin. Another thing to keep in mind? Windburn isn’t exclusive to those who already struggle to keep their skin moisturized and hydrated, although Dr. Waldorf says that those who have dry or sensitive skin are more prone to developing windburn. Anyone can get it!

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Since completely cutting out all outdoor time in the winter or changing the amount of moisture in the air is not an option, preventative measures should be taken to keep your skin satisfied. It’s all about pumping up the moisturizing, before the situation occurs and after.

“The best is to wear a ‘windbreaker.’ This would be a richer more occlusive moisturizer that will create a physical barrier between your skin and the wind,” says New York City-based dermatologist Dr. Doris Day.

If this isn’t a reminder to lotion up before you leave the house, we don’t know what is. And don’t forget to research heavy moisturizers with sunscreen benefits or apply the product over your SPF. Dr. Heidi Waldorf says she likes Headhunter War Paint, which provides a barrier element as well as sun protection.

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