For many motorcycle riders, skin care is an afterthought.
When you’re roaring down the road, I bet you’re not thinking about moisturizer.
But while you’re having another wild adventure, your skin is, too.
Hours of exposure to sun, rain and wind will have a direct effect on your face.
And don’t forget, on a motorcycle you smile a lot – actually, for most of the day.
Without a good skincare routine, those little laugh lines will stick around much longer than the ride.
So you have a choice: 10,000 miles from now, do you want to look like a woman – or a leathery-skinned rhino sunning herself in a mud pool?
Skin care for motorcycle riders is essential. But it doesn’t have to be complicated. The key is to prepare your skin before the ride, protect it from the sun and wind during the ride, and then help it recover afterwards. This way, you’ll rack up the miles on the motorcycle – but not on your face.
So let’s keep things simple here.
I’m not suggesting a 25-step regimen.
You don’t have to buy 45 expensive Must-Have miracle creams.
Work with what you have.
You simply need a quick routine that safeguards your face before, during and after a motorcycle ride.
Here’s how to do it in 4 easy steps.
Step 1: Prepare for the Ride
A few days before your ride, stop using any products that make your skin more sensitive.
Facial scrubs can leave your face sore and irritated.
Some intensive treatments can make your skin more vulnerable to sunburn.
(Glycolic acid, we’re talking to you…)
If in doubt, double check the instructions on the bottle.
And steer clear of products you know will angry up your skin.
The night before a motorcycle ride, crank up the moisture.
Your skin is about to be attacked by the elements, and it needs to be battle ready.
It’s time to set up the defences.
Turn to the extra soothing products in your bathroom cabinet.
You know the ones.
The little pots of thick white gloop that make your skin go ahhhhh…
For me, that means an oil-based natural cleanser.
It wipes off with a soft face cloth, and a few splashes of lukewarm water.
That’s followed by an organic night cream that will feed and calm my skin.
This is also a good time to add a little extra dab of rich moisturizer around your eyes, and on your lips.
Motorcycles make you smile, remember.
You want those laugh lines to smooth out again by the end of the day!
But in the meantime, you want to wake up to soft, hydrated skin that’s in the best possible shape for the ride ahead.
Step 2: On Riding Day
OK, so this is where we change gears from heavy products to lighter ones.
Because of your efforts last night, your skin is moisturized and ready for the open road.
Do a gentle cleanse, and rinse well with lukewarm water.
Pat your face dry on a soft towel, rather than rub at it.
Apply your day moisturizer and give it a few minutes to sink in.
And then it’s time to arm your skin with its secret weapon…
Never, ever leave home without it.
Especially on a motorcycle!
It’s amazing how the damaging rays manage to get through a motorcycle helmet.
In a full face helmet, most of your face is protected from the sun.
But the center of your face is totally exposed.
And that happens to include the most delicate skin on your face; the area that wrinkles first and most visibly – that thin skin around your eyes.
Concentrate your sunscreen on the center of your face where the sun can still get to you. An extra dash under your eyes really can’t hurt.
Avoid slathering it onto your eyelids, though.
Depending on how hot the day is, you’re likely to sweat in your helmet.
Sunscreen can easily run into your eyes, and really irritate them.
Now, this is not a great idea on a motorcycle, for two reasons.
- It’s helpful to be able to see where you’re going, and…
- Melting sunscreen and watering eyes also wreak havoc with eye makeup.
Before you know it, you’ve turned into a short-sighted panda, squinting at the world through black circles of streaky mascara.
But wearing makeup in a motorcycle helmet is a whole other topic.
I’ve put together some simple motorcycle makeup tips over here if you need a little help with that.
Pack a travel sized container of sunscreen, and you can reapply it strategically when you stop for lunch or coffee.
You don’t have to rub it all over your face every time you stop. But a quick dab under your eyes and on your nose can top up your protection for the ride home.
Worried that you’ve just wrecked your makeup?
Take off the shine with a light dusting of powder, and you’ll be polished and protected. A slick of moisturizing lipstick in a natural shade is the finishing touch (and also adds another layer of protection to your lips).
Step 3: Extra Skin Defence During the Ride
OK, so your face is protected by sunscreen and your helmet.
But there are a couple more little tricks that can help save your skin on a motorcycle.
Look after your neck
Your face is not the only part of your skin that’s battling the elements on a motorcycle.
There’s also your neck to consider.
The skin here is also quite fragile, and wrinkles easily.
(Ever seen the pictures of celebrities with weirdly smooth faces, but turkey necks?)
Yeah, let’s avoid that look if we can.
You don’t need people to be eyeing you hungrily next Thanksgiving.
So protect your neck from the sun and wind.
A light application of non-greasy moisturizer and sunscreen here too are the first line of defence.
But windburn is the most likely source of attacks to your neck.
And there’s a simple way of defending against the wind.
Always wear a scarf.
A scarf helps keep your neck velvet soft, and also stops the wind wriggling its icy fingers down into your jacket.
Pack a hat
If you’re out riding on a beautiful summer’s day, of course you’ll stop for lunch somewhere. And if it’s warm out, chances are you’ll find a table in the sun.
Sounds like the perfect day, right?
Your skin doesn’t think so.
By halfway through a ride, your face is already feeling tender.
But if you bring a hat with you, you won’t have to expose your skin to strong direct sunlight for the next hour.
And lunchtime, of course, is usually the hottest time of the day. A physical barrier between your face and the sun will help protect it from getting burned.
Choose a soft, squashable hat with a large brim.
These are the easiest to roll or fold for easy packing.
When you stop for lunch, a big floppy brim looks retro cool, while shielding your face and the delicate skin on your neck, too.
Of course, by lunchtime, you may well have developed a bad case of helmet hair anyway. If so, a hat like this is the perfect disguise.
Keep your visor (mostly) closed
There are lots of reasons to flip open the visor on your motorcycle helmet.
It’s wonderful to feel the breeze on your face (well, maybe not in winter).
You can smell the fresh ocean spray if you’re riding near the sea, or breathe in the clean fragrant air on a countryside ride.
And if you ride with a chatty man like I do, you’ll need to open your visor often to hear his latest funny comment.
So it’s inevitable that sometimes, sure, you’ll need open your visor on a ride.
You can’t really avoid it.
OK, what’s the problem?
Well, there are two of them, really.
An open visor:
(1) Increases your exposure to windburn, and
(2) Means you get a lot more road dirt stuck to your face.
So close your visor now and then.
You can open the vents in your helmet to keep the air flowing around your face.
Keeping your visor largely closed is a small habit to change.
But it can really pay off on less wear and tear to your skin.
Protect your eyes
I love love LOVE my Shoei helmet, for lots of reasons.
It seals well against the wind.
But my favorite thing about it is the pop-down, tinted little screen.
With the push of a button, a little screen will come down and protect my eyes from glare. It has all of the advantages of sunglasses, with none of the fumbling.
This feature has been a game changer for me, because I already wear glasses in my helmet. I’m as blind as a mole in its underground burrow without them.
But roaring through a blurry shapeless world doesn’t appeal to me, so I must wear glasses all the time.
If you have a pop down screen in your helmet, use it every chance you get.
Less glare means less squinting – and that means fewer crow’s feet.
But if you don’t have built-in sunglasses in your helmet, don’t panic.
Make sure you slip some actual sunglasses into your helmet instead.
Get a pair which reduce glare, and have light, delicate arms that won’t dig into your head the whole ride.
Step 4: After the Ride
After a motorcycle ride, you always feel a glow of wellbeing.
You feel it in your mind, which is now miraculously free from neurotic thoughts.
You feel it in your body, which is pleasantly tired and maybe aching a little.
But you also feel a glow in your face.
Yep, that glow is partly the happiness that comes from a great motorcycle ride.
But it’s also likely to be a damaging combination of sun and windburn.
The sun will often find a way through the weak spots in your defences.
If you forgot your hat (or even worse, your sunscreen), your skin will be sore.
The wind has also gotten in a few good slaps to your face during the day, which doesn’t help.
And you probably have a rather disgusting layer of grime on your skin as well.
It’ll be a very attractive mix of sweat, oil, sunscreen, melted makeup, road dirt, air pollution… And maybe even a cute little bug or two, which splattered themselves prettily on your cheek.
Clearly, there’s some work to do here.
It’s time to head for the bathroom, and shut the door firmly behind you.
Time to get out of Max Max Road Warrior mode and see if there’s still a woman under all that dirt.
If you happen to have a kilogram or two of flower petals to hand and a spare 2 hours, go nuts and run a bath.
Either way, deal with your face first.
Time to bring out the heavy-duty cleanser.
Your face will be MUCH dirtier than it normally is.
It will be tender and oh-so-sensitive.
This is why I love using an oil-based cleanser.
Massaging in the thick cream with a little warm water really gives all the grime something to stick to. You’ll be horrified by what you find on the wash cloth.
But it’s better off there than on your face.
If you prefer a foaming cleanser that rinses off cleanly, that’s fine too.
Use tepid water, not hot.
Your skin is likely already a little burned from the sun and wind.
The key here is not to strip your face, and stress it out even more.
Once your face is clean, and rinsed, pat it dry gently with a soft towel.
And now for the moisturizer…
If you’re heading for bed or staying home, it’s OK to look like the Creature from the Black Lagoon.
Pull out your heaviest night cream and don’t be stingy.
Add a couple of extra dabs around your eyes.
The skin there has had a workout from all that smiling, remember.
Massage your night cream gently into your face (not forgetting your neck and lips). Let your skin drink in the moisture, rest and recover.
The day or two after a ride is also a good time to keep using any calming products you have to hand. If you have a deep moisturizing mask in the cupboard, for example, that’ll go down well.
But this is not the time for any harsh treatments.
Fragrance free, natural products for sensitive skin are really helpful after a ride.
Even if you didn’t start out with sensitive skin!
Gentle products like these will pamper your skin back to feeling strong again.
Skin care is so important for motorcycle riders!
After all, you always protect your body with the right motorcycle gear.
Your skin needs a few layers of protection, too.
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