December 19, 2009

Winter: not a pretty time for cyclists

By Elisa | 18 Comments »
Hoping for snow this winter!

(Hoping for snow this winter!)

Winter…what can I say about it?  I prefer it to summer here as it gets hot as hell and I arrive everywhere dripping in sweat.  I also love tights, boots, hats, tights, legwarmers, tights!  I welcome the cold with open arms most of the time.

One thing I don’t love is the damage winter does to me.  Seriously, my hands look like dry bleeding messes most of the time.  Sexy, huh?  Anyone feel like holding hands and snuggling…I didn’t think so. Between riding, steaming milk, washing my hands so as not to acquire any sort of flu (porcine or otherwise) and coffee and working on bikes, I am screwed. I have tried all forms of hand creams, salves, petroleum jelly and the like.  Nothing works.

If one is able to look past my hands, my chapped lips are sure to be an instant turn on.  Anna swears by Burt’s Bees Lifeguard’s Choice lip balm, but I have yet to find any in town.  Looks like I may be ordering off the interwebs.


I haven’t even talked yet about my dry face, which can easily end up looking dull and red.  Too little moisturizer and I look like I live in the desert, too much and I feel like an oil slick…what to do??  Most of the time I use normal moisturizer at night and put on a bit of Vaseline before my morning ride in to shield from the cold wind.

The near constant cold rain lately hasn’t helped with any of these things. I would love if anyone had any realistic, inexpensive solutions for me!

So as not to sound completely cranky I will end by saying that my hair looks fabulous in the winter!  Riding with a hat on means that it stays static free and I never need conditioner.  A light at the end of the dry, chapped tunnel.

How is your winter commute treating your skin?  Do you have a winter regime I need to try?  Do share!!

Enjoyed This Post? Share with others:
digg | stumble |


  1. On December 19th, 2009 Arcanum said:

    Full-finger waterproof, windproof riding gloves do a pretty good job protecting my hands from the elements. I picked up a pair of Canari Static gloves at the local Dick’s Sporting Goods for about $25-$30. If my hands get too dry anyway, I have some Neutrogena hand cream. Make sure you leave the gloves where they’ll air out when not in use, otherwise you’ll find them cold, damp, and clammy.

    For my head and face, a light balaclava. It was about $10 and is little more than thin stretchy fabric, but it’s enough to cut the wind . Airing out advice applies to it, too.

    For rain (if it’s not too cold), I’ve found the superlight rain shells of the sort hikers and backpackers use to be invaluable. Unfortunately they’re not cheap, running ~$100 each for the jacket and pants.

    For colder weather and snow I use the rain shell pants and my insulated leather jacket.

    Unfortunately, while these are reasonably effective solutions, they’re mainly not pretty solutions. At least not while you’re using them. On the other hand, I’m in Rochester NY, so if these work for me there’s a good chance they’ll work for you as well.

  2. On December 20th, 2009 Elisam said:

    A- thanks for the tips! I have full finger winter gloves, but still have dry hand issues. Sigh. I am working on getting a cowl or balaclava. I do use a light shell for rain and wind and it is my favorite cycling gear! Just the jacket, but maybe rain pants are needed too.

  3. On December 20th, 2009 Arcanum said:

    Probably not much you can do about the hands then. I mostly work indoors on computers, not making coffee-based drinks. The latter combined with the dry air is most likely doing the most damage.

    When it’s not actually raining or snowing, the rain pants mostly just cut the wind, give an extra layer of air for a hair more insulation, and protect your actual pants from spray and grime. If it’s not raining or snowing on a given day, and none of the other things are a problem, they probably won’t do you much good.

  4. On December 20th, 2009 Felicity said:

    I, too, have major problems with dry, cracked, bleeding hands thanks to my bike commuting. However, I’ve found that pure, unscented shea butter mixed with a little jojoba oil works wonders! I have a little thing of it from the company Inesscents. I’ve used shea butter before with meh results but somehow, this company’s product is great. I use it on my face too!

  5. On December 20th, 2009 chiggins said:

    I’ll use any moisturizer I can get my hands on if my hands are hurting, but if I’m home I’ll rub Proofide.into ‘em. It helps protect them pretty well!

  6. On December 20th, 2009 wle said:

    sounds like the problem is really dry indoor air
    not riding per se

    wear gloves inside?:)
    maybe some thin leather ones so you can still work/type?
    is there any glove that would work?

    maybe even thin cotton ones like official souothern ‘ladies’ used to wear

    and talk about cute



    there is no uncute color:)

    elbow gloves

    just rambling

    it;s cold over here :)
    brain freeze
    and i may ride 30 miles today at 40 degrees


  7. On December 20th, 2009 Steve A said:

    Some of us are not pretty in Summer, Fall or Spring, either. What’s yer complaint again?

  8. On December 20th, 2009 Dottie said:

    Severe dryness has not been a big problem for me. I keep a bottle of lotion on my desk and use it when I get to work and every time I wash my hands. I put on Burts Bees lip gloss before setting out in the morning and vaseline at night. That seems to keep everything pretty much balanced.

  9. On December 20th, 2009 Beany said:

    I have severe dry skin issues in the winter. I was born and bred for hot climates. Yet, I lived in Philadelphia for about 10 years. Few things I’ve tried and it worked.

    Drink lots of water and be well hydrated. Helps with the skin from looking too chappy.
    I moisturize every part of my body. I have everything getting dry and it is painful and bleedy. If you want to go real natural, try coconut oil..a little goes a long way.
    This doesn’t apply any more since I live in San Diego, but I never kept the heat on too high indoors. It dries out the room. Alternatively, try a humidifier or go low tech and dry your clothes indoors. basically do something to keep moisture in your environment and let your skin breathe.

    Hope it helps.

    Alternatively, you could always just move to San Diego. Chappy problems have gone away for the most part :)

  10. On December 20th, 2009 Mar said:

    The Burt’s Bees stuff is available in town- I’m glad it works for your blogmate. It turned my lips white. But I’ve seen it at Golden Temple, or sometimes even CVS and Target.

  11. On December 20th, 2009 Ann said:

    This may sound gross, but it’s the only thing that has helped me escape what work colleagues called “mummy fingers”–bandaged, cracked and bleeding fingers.–put a liberal amount of petroleum jelly and a bit of OTC hydrocortisone creme on your hands at bedtime and then put on a pair of vinyl gloves. I’m religious about it and my hands haven’t cracked since starting this regimen. I also try to keep some kind of moisturizer on my hands during the day to counter the affects of washing and dry, heated environments. Good luck.

  12. On December 21st, 2009 Cyclin' Missy said:

    I get super dry skin like you do. For your hands, I suggest Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream. This is seriously the best hand cream I’ve ever used. For my face, I like Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion. It doesn’t clog my pores or make me feel oily, but it works pretty well. For my body, I love the Neutrogena (again) Body Moisturizer. It really works and it lasts all day. I have been using this on my hands, too, instead of buying the hand cream. But I just ran out and couldn’t find it in the store. I think they may have re-packaged it as Norwegian Formula Intense Moisture Wrap.

    I hope that helps!

  13. On December 21st, 2009 Anna said:

    @ Mar – the lip balm does turn my lips white, but it works so amazingly well that I don’t really care. It feels wind proof!

  14. On December 21st, 2009 Ghost Rider said:

    I do a variation of Ann’s technique, but I use Weleda Skin Food and a pair of light cotton gloves. Lets your hands soak in the moisturizing goodness all night long, without the clamminess of rubber gloves.

  15. On December 22nd, 2009 Ann said:

    Ghost Rider,

    I’m glad cotton gloves work for you. I tried cotton first, but the fabric absorbed enough of the product my fingers still cracked. Only vinyl really works for me, but the skin on my fingers cracks very easily, especially in winter. Most people may do well using cotton gloves. However, I would recommend vinyl gloves for anyone who’s still having problems while using cotton gloves. I guess I’ve gotten used to the feeling of the vinyl gloves because they don’t bother me at night.

  16. On December 23rd, 2009 Braxton said:

    I see Cyclin’ Missy beat me to the suggestion but this stuff is above anything else I’ve seen for cracked knuckles and the like:
    Just a dab before bed once or twice is all it takes sometimes.

    Since high school I’ve use Purpose (from Johnson and Johnson) bar soap and lotion on my face which has the added benefit of being SPF 15.

  17. On December 23rd, 2009 Logan said:

    I just finished the latest Boneshaker issue and I loved your article! Great work. I really identified with your narrative. Its empowering to know that in another cubicle, in another city, another cyclist shares solidarity in car-free living and commuting. :)

    Thanks a bunch! :)


  18. On December 24th, 2009 Rebecca said:

    Last year I was staying with a friend in Chapel Hill and sampled some of her A Midsummer Night’s Cream from Trader Joe’s. It cured my dry hands without leaving an oily residue like other creams I’ve tried, and I’ve been hooked on it ever since. If you come across a Trader Joe’s in your travels, pick up a bottle of it ( or write to me and I’ll send you some….there are 2 Trader Joe’s within biking distance of where I live).


RSS feed for coments on this post
Both comments and pings are currently closed.

No public Twitter messages. You Should Follow Me on Twitter
  • Things We Believe In