Altitude Impacts UV Exposure, Requiring Different Skincare Regimens



It is easy for most people to see that areas that receive more sunlight also put people at higher risk for skin cancer. Sunny beaches and scorching deserts quickly come to mind, and it is rare that someone would plan an island vacation without packing the highest SPF sunscreen money can buy.

However, classic tropical locales are not the only place where a person can be at higher risk of damage to their skin from UV rays. Dermatologist Jean Liu Urquhart warns that Colorado’s altitude can have a huge impact on UV exposure. The Rocky Mountains push Colorado’s elevation higher than anywhere else in the U.S. and this has a variety of impacts on the skin.

For starters, the higher elevation means that there is less atmosphere between the sun’s rays and the earth. The atmosphere is also much cleaner and allows light to pass through more clearly. As a result, the UV index is much higher in comparison to sea level. This can increase the risk of sunburn, and over time, increases the risk of skin cancer.

Another issue is the weather. The alpine climate stays dry. The cool summers and beautiful mountains make the region an absolute must for outdoor enthusiasts and hikers. However, dry winds can burn, dehydrate, and chap skin. This, coupled with increased UV rays, can permanently damage and prematurely wear the skin out alongside increased risk of skin cancer.

Esthetician Michelle Connolly, owner of In Your Face Skin Fitness Studio and Dogma Athletic in Edwards, Colorado, recommends a full regimen of corrective facials and the regular use of products that help with antioxidant levels to maintain moist and healthy skin. Maintaining this throughout the dry winter months is also important for strengthening the skin and preventing further dehydration.