It's getting cold and windy out there. We've talked about keeping warm while you ride. We're pretty familiar with how to take care of our skin when it's hot out. If you're new to riding all winter, you may find some of this helpful.
Sunscreen: Just 'cause it is cold out doesn't mean you can't get a good burn. Slather yourself before you go out. Not only will it protect your skin from the sun, it also helps it from being dried out from the wind. Exposed skin takes a beating from a cold wind.
Embrocation: Not sure if everyone gets this, but I know my legs really get pretty beaten up in the cold. I tend to wear knickers even when it is pretty cold an cleave my shins out to in the cold. Even when I wear tights or pants, my legs come back pretty raw if I don't do something with them. Embrocation is a balm made of essential oils that are blended to provide warmth for your muscles and protection for your skin. They come in different levels of warming from no warming up to stuff that really heats your legs up!
In temps below 50 degrees, I'll use a non-warming or very mild warming embrocation. I'll go to medium below that. I personally don't use the really hot embrocations. My skin doesn't like them that much.
The awesome thing about embro, in addition to helping keep your legs and muscles warm, is that it keeps your skin really smooth and healthy… protecting it from the wind and elements.
Note: Applying the warming embrocation is something to be careful with. The stuff in it that warms your legs can also be uncomfortable if it gets on your tender, soft tissue. You also don't want to touch your face or eyes if you've got any embro on your fingers. Trust me, you'll be inventing new curse words if that happens. I apply warming embro using latex gloves and then toss them away. It makes everything easier.
Note2: Embro works best on shaved legs. It is easier to apply and remove.
Post-ride skin care: I'm a guy… facial skin care isn't high on my priority list. I generally use a moisturizer (read hand cream) on my hands and face after I get out of the shower. Suave vitamin E lotion is my fave. It is cheap and works well. For people who really care more about what they use on their face, I generally suggest going with something a little more heavy duty to repair and replenish what the cold takes out of the skin on your face.
If you're looking for the simple answer for everything…. just go to town with the Suave lotion and you'll be okay. If you want more in-depth information, read on!
On my legs I'm more systematic. Decades of winter riding has beaten the heck out of my legs. If I don't take care of them, the skin really begins to hurt. I've found a few things that work well. For every day use, I use Trader Joe's Vitamin E oil. It smells good and feels good on my skin. My legs feel great right away. If the ride was wet and my skin is really beaten up, something like Bag Balm (it is actually a cow udder ointment) from the drug store gives a bit more relief. Bag Balm is also great for saddle sores. It is good to have a tin of it around the house. The third product I just started using is from Donkey Label, a company that makes embrocation and chamois cream. It is called Recovery Oil. It is designed to not only repair your skin, but also helps your muscles recover when you use it as a massage oil. I use it just before getting out the Foam Roller (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foam_rolling). My legs feel great after.
I know that's a lot of information. It makes my legs feel happy though.
Happy winter riding!