That’s the forecast for this weekend in Whistler, British Columbia. Many people will be heading to Whistler this weekend to get in some skiing. Conditions on the mountains couldn’t be better and it’s a winter wonderland from Village to Peak at North America’s #1 ski resort.
The sun’s ultraviolet rays, however, are 2.5 times more dangerous in snow than on the beach and skiers should make sure to stay sun safe on the slopes. Snow reflects up to 80 percent of UV radiation, which means that your UV dose is close to double what it would be otherwise. (By comparison, grass, soil, and water reflect less than 10 percent; dry beach sand 15 percent; and sea foam 25 percent, according to this UV fact sheet from the World Health Organization.) On top of that, UV exposure also increases by approximately 10 percent for every 1,000 feet of elevation gain.
When you’re out on the hill, both snow and strong wind can wear away sunscreen and reduce its effectiveness, so you have to take extra precautions. To protect your skin from the cold, heavy winds and winter sun, follow these important sun safety tips:
- Apply sunscreen liberally and evenly to all exposed skin – most skiers and snowboarders do not use enough. You should apply at least a teaspoon to the face.
- Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of 30 or higher whenever you spend extended time outdoors. Apply 30 minutes before hitting the slopes. Be aware that the sun’s reflection off the snow is strong even on cloudy days (up to 80 percent of the sun’s rays can penetrate clouds).
- Use a moisturizing sunscreen with ingredients like lanolin or glycerin. Winter conditions can be particularly harsh on the skin.
- Be sure to cover often-missed spots: the lips, ears, around the eyes, and on the neck, the underside of chin, scalp and hands.
- Reapply every two hours, and immediately after heavy sweating.
- Always wear a lip balm with an SPF 15 or higher – lips are very sensitive.
- Carry a travel-sized sunscreen and lip balm with you on the slopes. Reapply on the chairlift, especially after a long, snow-blown run.
- Cover your head – it will protect your scalp and help keep you warm.
- Wear items like ski masks, which will leave very little skin exposed to the wind and sun.
- Sunglasses or goggles that offer 99 percent or greater UV protection and have wraparound or large frames will protect your eyes, eyelids and the sensitive skin around your eyes, which are common sites for skin cancers and sun-induced aging. The sun’s glare can make you squint, so it’s important to wear sunglasses or goggles to clearly see the terrain. Plus, it will increase your enjoyment and may even improve your performance while skiing!
- If possible, ski early in the morning and later on in the day, before 10 AM and after 4 PM. This decreases the amount of time spent outdoors in the most intense sunlight and helps you avoid long lines.
- If you are on the slopes for most of the day, take a few breaks indoors to reapply sunscreen.
- Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
So, attention all skiers! Have fun on the slopes and play sun safe!