With spring skiing now in full swing, the sun is getting more intense as each day passes, especially at altitude in the mountains.

At altitude there is less atmosphere to filter out the sun’s rays, which increases in intensity by a massive 20% above 1,500m. In addition, reflection from the snow, known as albedo, is also a factor – snow can reflect up to 80% of the sun’s UV rays back so you’re being bombarded by potentially damaging rays from all angles.

Add to this a generally drier atmosphere at altitude (don’t forget to stay hydrated) and your skin needs protection. It’s also worth considering that most popular ski areas are a good way south – Montgenevre, for instance, is at the same latitude as Bordeaux.
So good sun protection is vital if you want to go home with a tan rather than peeling pink skin. Here are a few options to prevent you burning up on the slopes, including clothing that also offers sun protection.

 

Lifesystems Mountain Sun Cream £8.99 for 50ml or £10.49 for 100ml

Lifesystems have formulated their sun cream specifically for high-altitude conditions where UV rays are particularly strong. This means it’s a little thicker than some creams and needs to be rubbed in quite well if you want to avoid having a white/pale-looking face, but this is actually no bad thing as it ensures you have good coverage.
Mountain Sun Cream contains highly effective broad-spectrum UV filters that offer excellent protection from harmful UVA & UVB rays, and it’s available in just one protection factor, SPF 50, which will be effective for pretty much anyone. The cream is also sweat resistant, which is useful in spring when it’s starting to warm up, even at altitude.

It has been dermatologically tested and is free from preservatives, making it suitable for children and anyone with sensitive skin. It comes in either a handy, flat bottle that fits conveniently inside your jacket pocket or as a useful combi stick complete with lip protection.

I’ve been using it for spring skiing and summer mountain biking and surfing for two seasons now and have found it to be both effective and convenient.

 

FOR Good level of protection, convenient size bottle.
AGAINST Quite thick so needs to be well rubbed in.

Ride Protect SPF 25 Sunscreen £11.99 for 50ml 

Ride Protect is a broad-spectrum sunscreen using natural sun filters to protect your skin against the sun, wind and rain, which means as well as being useful for skiing and mountain sports you can also use it for activities such as surfing and cycling.
It contains organic jojoba and coconut oil to pamper your skin along with candelilla wax for water resistance and non-nano mineral titanium dioxide for UVA and UVB protection instead of chemical sun filters and stabilisers, which doesn’t sting your eyes or penetrate the skin as do chemical filters (it actually sits on top of your skin and reflects back UVA and UVB rays).
Ride Protect rubs in easily and feels dry, not sticky, and it provides protection as soon as it is applied.
 
FOR All-natural ingredients
AGAINST Quite pricey

Esthederm Bronz Repair Cream £55 for 50ml

Wow! £55 for a tube of sun cream – you’re going to have to be well into spoiling yourself to want to start slapping on Esthederm’s Bronze Repair Cream. That said, besides protecting your skin from UVB and UVA rays the manufacturers claim that it also activates your skin’s natural pigmentation process to stimulate tanning, as well as naturally preventing the effects of photo-aging and correcting existing wrinkles.
 
The cream rubs in easily and is neither sticky nor greasy, and it comes with a quite pleasant aroma although this may not appeal to everyone. It has to be applied twenty-minutes before you step out into the sun, and every two hours, which may be a bit of a faff when, for example, ski touring; and the ‘moderate’ sun protection it offers doesn’t come with a specific SPF, although this should presumably work for most people other than those with very sun-sensitive skin.

FOR Easy to apply, smells nice (although that’s subjective…)

AGAINST The price – most people will find it had to justify the expense

Mammut Trovat T-Shirt £40

Mammut’s Trovat t-shirt offers UV protection (UPF) of 50-plus, so it’s a good option on warm/hot spring days when ski touring, for example. It also features Mammut’s soft-feeling ‘drirelease’ fabric, which helps your body regulate moisture during sports, dries very quickly and is also easy to care for.
The Trovat consists of a mix of 82 per-cent polyester, 15 per-cent cotton and three-per-cent Spandex for a pleasing combination of softness against the skin, and stretch. And, of course, it can be used for regular wear as well as for skiing, adding to its versatility.

FOR
Good combination of sun protection and comfort.
AGAINST You’ll obviously still need to use sun cream on the areas it doesn’t cover.

Salomon Elevate FZ women's midlayer £100 

The Elevate FZ offers UPF50 sun protection, making it a good option on warmer days when you’re able to ski without a shell or serious insulation. It also features Salomon’s ‘AdvancesSkin Warm’ fabric, which provides odour control so you can wear it for the length of your ski trip without having to worry about it ponging.
The ‘active fit’ also means it will work with your body movements in more strenuous activities such as ski touring, whilst a full-length zip provides good heat control and there’s a hood for cooler conditions, along with two zip pickets where you can keep your sun cream. The Elevate FZ is also stylish enough for general wear when you’re not skiing.

FOR Versatile
AGAINST Not as light as a t-shirt

Royal Robbins Merinolux Henley £70

This Henley-style base layer from Royal Robbins features non-mulesed merino wool with Sorona fibres for a combination of added softness and greater durability, and it comes with a UPF of 50-plus.
Add to that the fact that the fabric is naturally odour-resistant, moisture wicking and wrinkle-resistant and it makes for a great piece of kit for hot days on the hill, especially ski touring, when the buttons can be unfastened for additional heat regulation and the sleeves will also roll up easily.
The garment is also quick drying and machine washable, and it looks stylish enough that you can wear it in the bar after your day on the slopes.
 
FOR Versatile and good looking
AGAINST Long sleeves may not suit everyone
For more information on the latest kit, take a look at our reviews here