It's tough to get a sunburn in most places right now, but that doesn't mean your skin is completely safe. A windburn is basically the winter version of a sunburn, and it can be almost as painful.

I'm one of those people who enjoys spending the day exercising outside, even when it's chilly and wind and I inevitably experience a few windburn episodes over the winter. If you've ever had windburn, you're aware of the stinging and burning sensation that can follow a fun-filled winter excursion (or sometimes just a walk to the store). My skin can become reddish when it is windburned, especially on my face, which goes beyond the idea of "rosy winter cheeks." It’s not a look I’m very fond of.

Windburn is pretty common because the winter wind strips moisture from your skin the second it's exposed. As little as 15 minutes of exposure can lead to the condition. The skin on your face is more sensitive because it’s thinner.

Because most of us can’t just stay inside all winter — how do you prevent it?

The best way to protect your skin in the winter months, besides lathering up on moisturizer, is by physically covering it whenever you're exposed to the elements. Gloves, hats, scarves and even a ski mask can help protect your face from getting windburned and dried out.

Moisturizers offer some protection in the sense that they’re a barrier between you and the outside world. But if you’re going to be out in the wind and cold for an extended period of time or day after day, cover your face and hands. If you’re experiencing windburn-related pain to the point that anything you put on it stings, dampen your skin before applying moisturizer on top.

Not all moisturizers are created equal, though. In general, thicker products work best. Ointments are gooey and thick and tend not to sting, whereas creams and lotions usually will because of what’s in them.

And one last thing. Always protect your lips.


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