Skin and Hair Care at High Altitude
Altitude does not really affect hair, nor does it really affect skin. However, many elements which tend to go along with high altitude DO affect skin and hair.
Sunlight is probably the major issue. Sun rays at higher altitude can be very harsh, and sensitive skin can burn in half an hour or less. Hair also bleaches and dries out very rapidly in intense sunlight.
Many people who previously did not need conditioner on their hair, find that at higher altitudes they need to do so. Conditioning shampoo can offer a light conditioning option for people who dislike the heavy feel of a separate conditioner.
The other major factor for skin and hair is the wind. It can suck the moisture out of your skin, and wreak havoc with almost any hairstyle.
Women tend to go in for one of two different hair styling options:
Short and simple – so that even when the wind whips it around, you can straighten it back out with just your fingers.
Long and confined – Long hair, put up in a ponytail or other method of tying it up, will stay neat and tanglefree. Usually you have to spray it down with hairspray to keep the shorter ends from working loose and driving you nuts, but hairspray will actually work for that!
For medium length hair, no hairspray or mousse in the world is strong enough to stick it down in persistent winds! It tends to tie little knots in any hair that is long enough to move around very much!
Usually, the wind is not a real issue with hair unless you plan to be out in it a long time. If you are just going from one sheltered place to another, then hairspray will generally preserve the majority of your style. But if you intend to be out of doors for more than a few minutes, you’ll have to opt for another way of keeping it from becoming hopelessly tangled.
We use sunscreen to protect our skin, though we only use it to prevent sunburn, not to prevent all exposure.
In the wintertime, the cold and dry weather can also sometimes cause hands and lips to split. It can be very painful, as such splits and cracks can go quite deep. We have a number of strategies to combat this, and know of several products which help:
1. Zim’s Crack Cream. This product has arnica in it, which is helpful for healing.
2. Herbal Momma’s Lotion Bar (http://www.herbalmomma.com). This intense moisturizer helps keep rough hands and feet softer.
3. Shea Butter. If you can find it in a pure form, not just a lotion, it is a very intense moisturizer. Herbal Momma also carries this product.
4. Borage Oil. Take one capsule a day. If you take it internally, it helps heal dry skin.
5. Coconut Oil. Again, taken internally, it helps to moisturize and heal dry skin from the inside out.
These strategies go far beyond the effectiveness of simple lotions. We find that winter causes problems with my husband’s hands up here, which regular lotions are completely unequal to!
Usually, skin problems will improve slightly as your body adjusts, but may worsen again in winter. Hair problems tend to come on more gradually, and to worsen with time rather than improve.