Girl’s (or Guys too!) Guide to Surviving Winter in the North

8 months of winter can be rough not only mentally but physically as well. I remember the first year I came to the north, my new coworker and I looking at our faces after 2 months of being up north and seeing the wrinkles etched in our faces and panicking – we were only in our mid twenties and suddenly seemed to look like we were 50 and like we had a million wrinkles on our faces.  Later that month my coworker went back to her home for a week off and when she came back she looked young and fresh again. It was the extreme dry cold air up here. There is very little humidity in the air here combined with extreme winds and -40 temperatures outside leaving skin rough, dry and wrinkled looking. I also found myself waking up with headaches and sore throats due to dryness. But luckily I figured out a few tricks and I’ve actually had friends tell me I look younger now than before I came up north.

  1. Get a humidifier

The first thing I did when I went back home at Christmas was to look for my humidifier in my storage locker. It’s a nice small but powerful model that made it easy to fit into my suitcase. It makes such a difference, I sleep better because of it, my skin feels more supple when I wake up, and I no longer wake up with sore throats or headaches. It is totally worth the limited suitcase space to bring a humidifier.

2. Drink lots of water

Stay hydrated on the inside too by drinking plenty of water. I try to drink water throughout the day and keep a glass by my bed which also helps prevent the sore throat I was having in the morning.

3. Moisturize

I admit I was a bit lazy in the city with my beauty routine, up north I have no choice. I need to moisturize my face and body daily or I can see and feel that I haven’t.  Ordinary moisturizers I might have used in the city don’t quite cut it so I’ve experimented to find ones that stand up to the extreme subarctic mountain dryness. Through trial and error I’ve discovered my favorite extreme moisturizers that can stand up to a subarctic winter.

Fighting Winter one lotion at a time

Pacifica body lotions: I love these lotions so much, they are luxuriously thick perfect for skinned dried out by a long winter, and they smell delicious. I like to take a hot bath and then slather myself with one of these. Bonus my favourite scents are Indian Coconut Nectar and Island Vanilla so I end up smelling like a tropical vacation and if I can’t be on one, I may as well smell like one.

Gold Bond Ultimate Healing Lotion: I actually discovered this years before I went up north when I had gotten frostbite and my skin turned into an awful scaly rash. This was the only lotion I could use that didn’t make my skin burn and helped the dryness and rash go away. A lifesaver if you like to be outdoors doing winter sports or ice fishing or if your truck gets stuck in a wind and blowing storm and you have to dig it out and get wind chapped skin in the process.

I use Earth Science Almond-Aloe Moisturizer as my daily face moisturizer. It’s very gentle and doesn’t irritate my very sensitive skin and helps prevent the strange dryness wrinkles that extreme weather, subarctic mountain region low humidity and indoor heating cause

3. Try to go out daily

It can be hard to be motivated to go out when it’s -40 out with extreme wind but staying in for too long will get you feeling down. Going out daily even if just for a few minutes at a time will help with getting used to the cold and to get fresh air. Try to get some sunshine on your face if you can.

The Ice Mascara Look

4.  Stay active

When I’m in the city it’s easy to be active without even thinking about because I regularly walk everywhere. In the north it’s a little more challenging, everything is located within a few blocks and when it’s extremely cold people often drive everywhere and there aren’t fitness centres or gyms you can join. So I have to make more of an effort to be active. Some ways to stay active in the north: take daily walks, snowshoe with a group of friends, go skating if the community has an arena or if it is possible to clear a small rink on a frozen pond, participate in community fitness classes if the community has them or try to organize some yourself (often communities will allow the use of the school gym).  If it’s impossible to go out because there’s a big snowstorm or the weather is below 50,  use workout videos or at home workouts found online (Pinterest is great for this), I’ll often get together with a few friends to workout in one of our homes like this because I’m much more motivated when I have someone else to exercise with.



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