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How High Altitudes Affect Your Skin

Vanessa Hathaway
Founder, Your Custom Beauty


Although a beautiful mountain range has few parallels, maintaining a beautiful, healthy complexion at high altitudes can prove to be quite the challenge.  High altitudes have thinner air with a lower oxygen content, as well as much lower humidity.  Furthermore, cool, dry winds strip moisture from any exposed skin — particularly the face and hands.


To keep your skin looking and feeling its best, follow these helpful guidelines:


  • Unless your skin is very oily, you’ll want to use a heavier moisturizer while at a higher altitude.  Be sure to apply moisturizer to damp skin immediately after washing your face and body to lock in moisture.
  • Avoid long, hot showers and baths.  Instead, take short, lukewarm showers.
  • Because the thin atmosphere filters less of the sun’s harmful rays, you’ll want to wear a high SPF broad-spectrum sunscreen (50+ SPF) on your face, neck, hands and any other exposed areas.  Sunglasses and a hat are also highly recommended to shield your eyes and upper body from the strong sunlight.  
  • Keep your body hydrated by drinking plenty of water.  While you should be drinking a ½ ounce of water per pound of body weight (i.e., 120 pounds = 60 ounces water/day), in high altitudes you may need twice that amount to stay fully hydrated.
  • Cut back on your alcohol consumption.  Alcohol dehydrates your body even more in dry conditions and has a stronger effect at higher altitudes.  Ideally, drink little or no alcohol for the first few days after arriving in a high altitude area.
  • Use a lip balm with sunscreen to protect your lips from sunburn and apply frequently.  Dry, sunburned lips are more apt to crack and peel in dry climates.  If you are prone to cold sores, this is a must.


These products would work well for most skin types, keeping your skin looking and feeling its best while you’re having your mile-high fun:


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