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Gold medal skin: How athletes defeat winter dryness (so you can, too)

Just how does Hannah Kearney keep chapped skin at bay?

Just watching the Olympic skiers, snowboarders, and speed skaters in Vancouver makes our skin feel dry, tight, and itchy. (As opposed to watching the figure skaters, whose stage makeup makes us want to consider swapping our Clarisonic face-cleansing brush for a pot scrubber.) Skin-care products aren’t really meant to go the Olympic mile, despite their claims. So we suspect there’s a wide cosmetic chasm between what athletes publicly endorse and what they privately slather on in the locker room. Here’s our take on what they must be using to look as hydrated and healthy as they do. And what’s good enough for Cypress Mountain is great for the NYC streets (and apartments with overly drying forced heat). These products can get our skin safely through the rest of winter—not an Olympic feat but a challenge nonetheless.

Intelligent Nutrients Lip Delivery Nutrition ($12) uses nourishing, antioxidant plant oils

Chapstick might have sponsored many a skier over the years, but you can bet the athletes are stealthily treating their lips with something way more nourishing such as shea or jojoba butter, castor oil, or even honey off the slopes. These ingredients contain moisture-binding and restorative fatty acids (honey provides a bit of exfoliation, too). Petroleum just locks in what you have, and considering lips don’t have but a few oil glands, that ain’t much.

Revolution Organics All-Over Body Balm ($28) is a dry-skin multitasker

Neutrogena may have made us afraid of oil, but plant-based oils repair, nourish, and protect. They also create more of a barrier against the elements than a water-based moisturizer, as do ointments (like Weleda Skin Food) or a balm. Humectants like hyaluronic acid, which draw moisture from the air, are also good bets. Without products like these, there’s no way mogul-skiing maven Hannah Kearney can keep her skin looking as radiant as it does.

Given constant exposure to the elements and altitude, you can bet Bode Miller, the whitest guy on the mountain, is wearing great sunscreen—and not whining about the shine, whiteness, or breakouts. His suspected sun shield? A sunscreen with Z-cote or zinc oxide, which is also an anti-inflammatory, and is good for breakout-prone skin, one with Mexoryl SX (or ecamsule), the best UVA-blocker on the market, or a science-supported, full-spectrum sunscreen with silicone that binds and doesn’t budge. Underneath: a layer of antioxidant serum or moisturizer that provides a second layer of defense.

Caudalie Instant Foaming Cleanser ($26) uses a pump for froth instead of chemicals

Getting skin free and clear of figure-skating face paint without stripping it to the point of rawness means ice dancers aren’t using soap. They’re going for cleansing oils, milk-based cleansers, or even faux-foaming cleansers, which use an aerating pump to froth the formula instead of sodium laureth sulfate, a dirty dozen cosmetic ingredient. These dissolve makeup without drying skin, and often contain healing herbs like lavender, calendula, or chamomile.

Stay away from hot water, fragrance, and surfactants and your skin will stand a fighting chance. Even mint added to lip balms can be too stimulating, so scale back to simple—and use plain plant-oil-based salves.

Got a gold medal-level winter skin-care trick? Or need one? Tell us, here!