Pre and Post Hike Skin Care

When you want to boost your mood, there really is nothing like getting outside and being in the fresh air. Hiking is one of the greatest activities you can enjoy both for its physical benefits and for its mental benefits. Spending hours with nature will significantly improve your mood, but if you’re constantly worrying about sunburns or your face is seriously dry, you can spend more time worrying and less time enjoying everything around you. Take a look at these pre and post hike skin care tips to ensure your day is spent happily and healthily.

Woman getting ready for a hike.

Prevention and protection are the most important aspects of pre-hike skin care.

  • Cleanse – Cleansing is always the first step in a skin care routine, and you will want to be sure that you cleanse your face before you hit the hiking trails. Use a gentle cleanser so that you don’t strip your skin of its natural oils, which can lead to dry skin. If you use a toner, then follow your cleanser with your toner to keep your skin looking fresh.
  • Serum – You don’t have to do this step, but an antioxidant-packed serum can significantly increase your skin’s level of protection. Look for a serum that contains vitamin C, which is a very potent antioxidant that fights off free radical damage. In addition to the free radical protection, vitamin C boosts your skin’s natural UV protection, which can make your sunscreen even more effective.
  • Moisturize – Hydrating your skin is especially important before you head outdoors. High altitudes can sap your skin of moisture, so you want to be sure that you’re using a moisturizer containing a humectant like hyaluronic acid, glycerin or honey. Humectants work essentially like a vacuum cleaner; they suck moisture out of the surrounding air and attract it to your skin. Once added moisture is in your skin, humectants store it in deeper layers of the skin so you maintain hydration long after you apply your moisturizer.
  • Protect – If you only do one thing before you go on a hike, make it applying sunscreen. Ultraviolet radiation is the number one cause of premature aging, and beyond making you look older, without sunscreen, you put yourself at a serious risk of skin cancer and other damage. If you have sensitive skin, try using a physical sunscreen with the ingredients zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, as these are more gentle on the skin. If you use a physical sunscreen, you can apply your sunscreen right before you head out, but if you use a traditional chemical sunscreen, be sure to apply the product at least 20 minutes before sun exposure. Remember to reapply every two hours that you are in the sun for optimal protection.
  • Avoid Retinol – This is a good rule to follow any day, because retinol products won’t work effectively when exposed to sunlight. Additionally, these make your skin extra sensitive to sunlight, so you may even want to skip skin care with retinol the night before a hike as well.

Woman resting after a hike

Post-hike skin care is all about refreshing and recovery.

  • Cleanse – Cleansing is the first thing you want to do when you return from a hike. Remove all of the dirt, grime, debris, oil and product from your face for a fresh, clean feeling. Your regular cleanser is perfectly fine for this step, you don’t need to use something harsh to get your skin clean. If you use a toner, you can apply this right after cleansing.
  • Exfoliate – Exfoliating your skin after a hike is a must. This will remove the layer of dead skin cells and debris that has built up on your face and will help to unclog your pores as well. To be sure that you don’t do damage to your skin, look for chemical exfoliants like alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids. Lactic acid is great for those with sensitive or dry skin because it exfoliates and hydrates at the same time. If your skin is more on the oily or acne-prone side, look for salicylic acid, because this chemical exfoliant can penetrate your pores to clear them out.
    Moisturize – The weather, sun and other environmental aspects can really dehydrate your skin, so you want to be sure to end your post-hike skin care routine with a good moisturizer. Again, humectant ingredients are great for use to provide long-lasting and intense hydration.

Hiking is an excellent way to exercise. Not only do you get to spend time walking and burning calories, but you get to enjoy all of the splendor of nature. Viewing the greenery, sunlight and wildlife is a serious way to boost your mood. You don’t want to spend your hike worried about getting a sunburn or dealing with uncomfortably dry skin, so use these pre and post hike skin care tips for a worry-free day.


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