How to stop me being quite such a salty seadog?
July 10, 2011 12:28 PM   Subscribe

When sailing, how do you protect your face from wind and salt as well as the sun?

I’ve had a “luckiest woman in the world” moment, and despite having no sailing experience*, will be joining one of the crews for the first week/10 days of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race (from Southampton, UK to Madeira).

There are probably many other things which should be concerning me, but the one I’ve come to ask about is how not to get a really sore face.

I just spent a week training in the Solent and Channel on the yacht in fairly bright sun (well, bright for me – I live in Scotland!), wearing standard factor 30 on my face and a baseball cap. I didn’t get sunburnt, but within a day my face felt like sandpaper, and by the end of the week the skin was really sore. I assume it was a combination of sun/salt/wind. It disappeared within a few days of returning, aided by lots of exfoliation and night-time applications of Vaseline. For the race itself, I’ll buy some higher SPF and look for some hypo-allergenic stuff, but are there any products specifically designed to help protect your skin from wind and salty air too? When I try Googling I just get sea salt scrubs etc.

Extra info: My skin is normally pretty good, easy to look after, not sensitive. I tan gradually rather than burning. When it was doing its sandpaper thing, it looked absolutely normal (give or take about 20 years' worth of extra wrinkles that appeared - I think due to a combination of this dryness and lack of sleep). While I was on board, I was putting on Vaseline overnight to moisturise, but can't do that during the day as I assume, being oil-based, it'd fry my skin in the sun. There are virtually no washing facilities on board - it's wet wipes all round, so limited opportunities for exfoliating as we go!

* I’m going primarily to write about it, in case you’re concerned I have a cavalier attitude to this whole sailing business!
posted by penguin pie to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I think the most important thing is to create a barrier between your skin and the wind/salt. I would first put on a layer of high SPF sunscreen and let your skin absorb it, then put on a thin layer of unrefined shea butter (I use this every night; it's great for your skin. I buy the AAA Shea Butter brand, which you can find on Amazon, but any unrefined shea butter would be fine).

Your skin will be a little greasy, but it will also be protected against the elements and very well moisturized.

I would avoid using straight Vaseline on your skin; it can really clog your pores.
posted by LizzyBee at 12:55 PM on July 10, 2011

I really like the neutrogena face stick. It's a little more surface protection than most sunscreen. It also is really easy to reapply without getting on your hand and leaving them slick or getting on the boat. Using that and reapplying every two hours has left me with the best post-sailing skin.
posted by mercredi at 1:14 PM on July 10, 2011

Cornhusker's Lotion works very well (applied over your sunblock), if you are not allergic to the methylparaben used as a preservative. You'll find Cornhusker's Lotion in a lot of sailor's kits as hand and face lotion. But methylparaben is used as a preservative in a lot of sunblock preparations, too, so the sunblock you're using may already have this agent, and by adding extra, you could be driving an allergic reaction to it, if you are one of the small minority with sensitivity to the ingredient.
posted by paulsc at 1:17 PM on July 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Crossing my fingers that I get to have this problem again this summer, but I go for either either Vaseline petroleum jelly cream (which seems to breathe a bit better than straight jelly) or Pond's Dry Skin cream. Besides being protective, they tend not to sting as much as other things if they get into your eyes via sweat or rubbing. If it's cold and there's less danger of that or of my being mocked for excessive girlyness, I use Kiehl's Creme de Corps (which isn't technically for the face, but my skin is that dry) or Creme d'Elegance, which eats wrinkles for breakfast.

What a fantastic opportunity. Have fun!
posted by notquitemaryann at 1:19 PM on July 10, 2011

I haven't done ocean sailing, but I did grow up doing lake sailing & got pretty familiar with the nasty effects of wind + sun for hours and hours. My skin is usually fine, but it does get super dry and chapped from all the wind. Cleaning: washing with only water if you can get away with it, or Cetaphil cleaner. Moisturizing: Cetaphil cream (in the tub) if you're super chapped. Otherwise I use Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizer, YMMV but I've so far been justifying the crazy expensive price.

You'll look kind of dorky, but if you can get a wide brimmed had with a chin strap, try wearing that. Better sun protection than just the ballcap. And have lots of fun! :)
posted by lyra4 at 1:19 PM on July 10, 2011

Best answer: I swear by the Dermatone blue tin for any water-related activities. Comes in a range of SPFs (get the 30+ if you burn easily). At the end of the day, as much as it might feel good, try to stay away from heat as it'll just dry out your skin. Once you towel off, have a good moisturizer at the ready.
posted by t_dubs at 1:23 PM on July 10, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks so much everyone, loads of great suggestions. I don't know who to give a best answer to without conducting extensive (and expensive) field tests of all the products, but I'm going to give the Dermatone blue tin a try since it seems like a good one-stop-shop, which'll be easier for slapping on in the semi-dark at dawn after four hours sleep when I'm dropping straight out of my bunk to go on watch!

(Sadly there'll be literally no washing other than wet-wiping - I think you get a shower once a week in salt water with a quick fresh water splash to finish, and a cup of water on deck to brush your teeth - so washing with water/towelling off etc. won't be part of the experience!)
posted by penguin pie at 3:52 AM on July 11, 2011

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