3 Top Tips from The Skin Nerd for Looking After Your Skin While Sailing

Mariners are exposed to more elements than any of us lesser land-lubbers. Between rope-burn, sun and the wild, wild winds, you’re looking at chafed, callused hands, a weather-beaten face and even the possibility of looking older way faster. You shouldn’t have to compromise between your looks and your lifestyle, so read on for my top tips on how to look after your skin when sailing.

1) Sunscreen, every single day

The UV rays that reach us from the sun have heaps of negative effects on our skin due to the damage it causes it. UV damage can lead to the degradation of our skin’s structural proteins, collagen and elastin, which over time means deep lines and wrinkles, drooping and sagging of the skin. Unfortunately, that’s not the only downside of light exposure: pigmentation (known as sun spots and age spots) is also a risk, as is skin cancer.

One big myth I encounter a lot is that your skin can only be damaged by sunlight when you can feel the warmth of it. If only that were true! No matter whether it’s sunny, cloudy or rainy, UVA rays get to us and our skin year round.

Sailors need to invest in a high factor, water-resistant, broad spectrum sunscreen. ‘Broad spectrum’ means that it will defend your skin from both UVB and UVA rays.

How you apply it is just as important as applying it. Apply it thickly and evenly to all exposed areas and top up after 2 hours of direct sun exposure or if you’re submerged in water. Cover up with hats and UV protective clothing too, as even a factor 50 doesn’t give you 100% protection.

2) Get yourself a good (SPF) lip balm

Wind, sea spray and sun exposure combined is a combination that nearly guarantees chapped lips. There is no need to suffer through the pain. Go out and get a hydrating, protective lip balm that includes SPF.

When you’re choosing your lip balm, as a seafarer, you need a thicker, more oil and fat-based lip balm than many, as it will help to create a physical barrier on your lips which is what you want.

I rate the MooGoo SPF 15 Lip Balm (€3.95), as it is chock full of natural oils and waxes. If you want even more protection, opt for Uvistat Lipscreen SPF 50 (€7.00). You’ll find both in selected pharmacies nationwide.

3) When it comes to hand cream, look for natural moisturising factors

When you’re tugging ropes for hours, your skin notices.The formation of calluses, or, to get nerdie, the process of hyperkeratosis, occurs on areas of skin where there is repeated friction. Your delicate skin essentially creates calluses to protect itself, so all in all, they’re not a bad thing. However, they can be itchy, tender and a bit unsightly.

Hand cream is a must, whether you like to pop it on pre-sailing or as a reparative fix after the fact. Many swear by Eucerin UreaRepair Plus 5% Urea (€8.99). This hand cream contains urea, a compound found in our skin that makes up its NMF or natural moisturising factor, the shield that helps our skin to lock in hydration. Urea helps to soften hard skin, making it fantastic for calluses and dry, rough, irritated hands.

If you need an intense infusion of moisture into your poor cracked palms, lather your hands in hand cream and pop on a pair of latex or rubber gloves to seal in the hydration. Do this for half an hour to an hour, or even overnight, for hands that will feel brand new.

Best of luck on race day!

For more skin advice, check out www.theskinnerd.com.