Windburn: What It Is, How to Prevent It, and How to Treat It

Though spring is right around the corner, there may yet be some cold and blustery days to come. Winter weather can be rough on your skin but even if you’re taking steps to protect yourself, a single day spent outside can be damaging. With dry gusts of wind blowing on your skin, you’re much more likely to get windburned.

Windburn is a condition in which the skin becomes red and irritated after spending time outdoors in cold, windy conditions. While there is some debate whether windburn is actually sunburn, it’s an unpleasant situation in either case and one worth taking steps to prevent.

In this guide, we’ll explore the subject of windburn to determine what it is and how it differs from sunburn. Then, we’ll delve into some simple tips for preventing it and treating it.

What is Windburn?

Though your skin is designed with some self-protecting features in place, it’s still vulnerable to the elements. When the temperature drops in winter, so does the humidity level and that makes your skin more prone to dehydration. Add in windchill and a stiff breeze and you’ve got a recipe for dry, red, and irritated skin.

Windburn is a type of environmental damage that affects the outer layer of skin. This becomes an issue because the outermost layer of skin performs a protective function, acting as a barrier to defend the lower layers. When it’s exposed to cold temperature and strong wind, however, the natural oils that make up that protective layer can wear away. The result is dryness, irritation, and inflammation – windburn.

The central portion of your face – specifically the nose and cheeks – are the most prone to windburn. These are the areas less likely to be covered up by a scarf or sunglasses.

While there are certainly some similarities between windburn and sunburn, the differences are worth noting. Windburn on the face often looks similar to sunburn with the redness and inflammation that develops, but skin that is windburned typically feels chafed rather than warm and swollen. Sunburn has the potential to cause lasting damage and increased risk for skin cancer while windburn tends to fade after a few days.

Keep in mind that it’s entirely possible to develop windburn and sunburn at the same time. This is why it’s so important to take extra measures to protect your skin during the winter.

Tips for Preventing Windburn


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The key to preventing windburn is to build up the protective barrier in the top layer of your skin. When your skin is healthy and strong, it’s better able to defend itself against environmental aggressors.

Covering your face with a scarf and sunglasses is a great way to protect your skin during short periods of time spent outdoors, but you’ll get the best results from an intensive skincare routine. Hydration is important all year round, but in the winter, you may need to use thicker creams or layer moisturizing skincare products for added protection.

The following products can help you hydrate the skin and support its protective moisture barrier:

  • Hydra No. 1 Collection – Inclusive of a serum, crème, and fluid, the goal of the Hydra No. 1 collection is to deliver hydrating relief to dehydrated skin. The collection also contains an intensive hydrating mask for use whenever needed.
  • Nutri Defense – Nourish and protect the skin with this intensely comforting and repairing cream. Infused with omega fatty acids and nourishing pre- and probiotics, this formula replenishes the skin and restores its natural defenses.
  • Excellence Code Crème – Formulated for mature skin, this anti-aging cream features three proprietary botanical complexes to fortify the moisture barrier while firming and enhancing skin.
  • Defense+ Booster – Add a pump or two of this antioxidant booster oil to your daily moisturizer to deliver protective benefits to your skin.
  • SPF 50 – Sun protection is important all year-round and this SPF 50 formula helps defend the skin against the sun’s aging UV rays while boosting skin health.

If you’re not sure which products are suitable for your skin type, consult the Yon-Ka Skincare Advisor or stop in to your local Yon-Ka Paris partner spa for personalized advice.

How Do You Treat Windburn?

Even if you take steps to protect your skin, windburn can still happen. The first step in treating windburn is to give your skin some immediate relief from redness and irritation – a healthy dose of hydration can help. Slather on a thick layer of moisturizer, ideally one that contains ceramides to help repair the skin’s natural protective barrier.

As you’re working to heal windburn, it’s important to avoid further aggravating the skin. Keep your showers quick and cool – limit yourself to 10 or 15 minutes and use lukewarm water rather than hot. Apply moisturizer to damp skin immediately after showering to help lock in moisture. You may also want to take a break from skincare products that contain potentially irritating ingredients like retinoids, benzoyl peroxide, and salicylic acid.

The following Yon-Ka Paris products may help soothe windburn on face and support barrier repair:

  • Sensitive Masque – Intensely calming and soothing, this mask for sensitive skin extinguishes red and inflamed complexions.
  • Sensitive Crème – Soothe, calm, and comfort the skin with this desensitizing cream formulated for sensitive skin. A proprietary complex of pre- and probiotics helps rebalance the skin and fortify the protective microbiome.
  • Elixir Vital – This dual-phase serum repairs and soothes dry, damaged, and irritated skin while helping restore the protective barrier. Apply morning and evening after cleansing and toning.
  • Lotion Yon-Ka PS – Applied after cleansing and before moisturizing, this alcohol-free toner drenches the skin with hydrating moisture and luxurious aroma.

A daily skincare routine is essential for keeping your skin healthy, but regular facials can help as well. A professional spa facial is ideal for addressing temporary skin issues like windburn as well as long-term concerns like hyperpigmentation, skin sensitivity, and anti-aging.

Yon-Ka Paris

The promise of infinite rejuvenation | Celebrating its 65th anniversary, Yon-Ka Paris offers French-made, luxurious, plant cell active-based skincare regimens. Quintessence, Yon-Ka’s essential oil Complex, delivers the very unique olfactive and therapeutic experience that discerning consumers and passionate professionals have been raving about since 1954. Thanks to its research and expertise in phyto-aromatic therapy, Yon-Ka Paris develops sensorial skincare products and protocols with scientifically proven efficacy. Today, Yon-Ka Paris collaborates with licensed Beauty and Wellness professionals in 5000+ locations Worldwide to deliver the perfect alchemy of age-defying results and pure wellness.

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