The Truth About Windburn: What Is It Really?

A woman with windburn

Have you ever spent time outside on a windy day and noticed that your skin begins to get red and dry? Has this inflammation caused you pain and discomfort? If so, there's a good chance you've experienced windburn.

This type of skin damage can ruin an otherwise exhilarating day spent outdoors. Fortunately, there are several ways to prevent and treat windburn.

This guide will explore what windburn is, why it happens, and how it differs from sunburn. Read on to learn how you can say goodbye to windburn for good...

What Is Windburn?

Windburn describes painful skin inflammation that occurs after prolonged exposure to windy environments. You can get windburn almost anywhere cold breezes blow.

It's common to notice symptoms of windburn after spending a winter day on the beach, hiking in the mountains, or strolling around outside on a chilly day. The lips and face are two areas typically prone to developing windburn.

But if you've never experienced windburn, you might be wondering, "What are the signs and symptoms of this condition?"

Symptoms of Windburn

Reddened skin is one of the most common symptoms of windburn. It's the result of your skin's uppermost layer (the epidermis) drying out.

This inflamed skin may feel hot, much like sunburned skin. It may also feel painful, especially when you touch it or apply pressure. Windburned skin may peel several days into the healing process. 

You might have noticed that these symptoms sound very similar to sunburn symptoms. These similarities may make you wonder, "How do these conditions differ?"

Windburn vs. Sunburn

During the warmer, more humid summer months, windburn is pretty rare. But the symptoms of windburn are very similar to the signs of sunburn. It's not uncommon for people to confuse the two conditions with one another.

However, they do have some notable differences. Understanding these dissimilarities can help you answer the question, "Do I have windburn or sunburn?"

One of the most crucial differences is how these conditions develop. Windburn almost always develops during periods of cold, dry, windy weather. It's a symptom of extreme skin dryness and irritation.

On the other hand, sunburn develops after prolonged and unprotected exposure to sunshine. Ultraviolet (UV) rays are a form of natural radiation that can penetrate through multiple layers of skin tissue.

This harsh radiation can destroy the cells that make up your skin. The body reacts by rushing blood (and healing white blood cells) to the damaged skin. This immune response leads to skin inflammation and redness.

Sunburns can also cause second-degree burns that result in large, fluid-filled blisters. Notably, extreme cases of windburn may also involve skin blisters.

Unfortunately, it's possible to get sunburned during any season, even during cloudy winter afternoons. But windburn during the summer is extremely rare.

The bottom line is that windburn happens when cold, dry air causes the skin to dry out. Sunburn occurs when you spend time outdoors without wearing sunscreen!

A man in the snow with a windburn face

Windburn Prevention Tips

You now know how windburn happens and why it's different from sunburn. But do you know how to prevent windburn? Let's explore some helpful tricks to round out your windburn education!

No matter what time of year it might be, you can use these tips to keep your skin protected and healthy...


June and July tend to usher in the coldest weather and the highest risk of developing windburn. If you're planning on going skiing, sledding, or spending time outdoors skincare is essential.

Before heading out each day, you'll want to drink a tall glass of water, apply an alcohol-free moisturiser to your face and hands, and finish by massaging a gentle sunscreen across all exposed skin.

Because temperatures can get low, you'll also want to bundle up! Wearing layers is a fantastic way to keep your body temperature stable and remain comfortable. 


When September rolls around, the weather can be changeable.

A daily moisturiser and sunscreen can go a long way toward keeping your skin hydrated and nourished during the spring. Be sure to consider using organic, environmentally-friendly products.


As we've mentioned, windburn during summer is exceptionally uncommon. That said, strong winds can make it easier for your skin to sunburn.

A powerful gust can blow small bits of sand and dirt across your skin, causing microscopic abrasions. When UV rays hit this slightly-damaged skin, it can penetrate more quickly, damaging cells and resulting in a sunburn.

For that reason, the best way to protect your skin during the summer is to invest in natural sunscreens. You'll also want to drink plenty of water and limit your time spent outdoors.

Remember, lips are particularly sensitive to sun and wind damage. Sunburned lips and wind burn lips are both painful, so be sure to apply a protective lip balm or lip sunscreen before enjoying the sunshine.


The autumn season tends to be slightly cooler than the summer season, but not by much. Because of this, you'll likely want to continue applying daily sunscreens to protect your skin from damage.

How to Treat Windburn

Staying hydrated can help prevent windburn, but what should you do if you've already developed painful windburn symptoms?

Applying moisturiser or an after sun solution should be the first of the windburn remedies you try. People4Ocean's Hydrate Recovery Gel is a fantastic example of a rejuvenating moisturiser that's safe for windburned skin. It's rich in aloe vera juice, vitamins, and green tea extract.

Notably, you can also use Hydrate Recovery Gel to soothe sunburned skin. It's a year-round skin saver that you'll be glad to have on hand—literally!

You may also want to increase their daily water intake. After all, keeping your skin hydrated means keeping your whole body hydrated.

Comments (0)

Leave a comment