Iceland, here I come, courtesy of Play Airlines and I am beyond excited. Tiny horses, trolls, seafood, black beaches and bathing outdoors in thermal pools with Bjork. If I am very lucky, I might even catch the tail end of the Northern Lights. What I don’t want, is to end up with cracked lips and busted-up hair. I want to FIND a troll, I don’t want to come home looking like one. Time to find out what the best skincare products for winter are.

Iceland might not be all that cold but it is definitely windy. Like wind tunnel windy. Like, think of the windiest day in Toronto and then multiply that by infinity. That kind of wind. That means rough, chapped lips, skin and hands and knotted, angry hair. I will hit as many thermal baths as I can which are great for the skin but not always great for your hair.

Since I keep makeup to the bare minimum when I travel, I have more room for skin/haircare products. I bring mascara, my FirmX eye cream, a Wonderskin lip stain and maybe a cream blush and that’s it. My hair airs dry and just does its own thing, but keeping my skin and hair protected and healthy becomes more important, the older I get.

SPF is non-negotiable. Snow reflects UV light into your face so you are getting hit twice as hard when you spend lots of time outside in winter weather. A toque, sunglasses and waterproof gloves round out my aresenal.

Here’s what I am taking to Iceland as I frolic outdoors without damaging my skin and my hair:


Kiehls facial barrier for Iceland skincare products for winter

Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Barrier Balm is new to the line and this should help give me an extra layer of protection while out riding my tiny pony along the volcanic hills above the village of Hverager├░i. It contains Squalane & Ceramide, in an on-the-go stick formula, that hydrates and strengthens the skin barrier. Wear it under or even over makeup and reapply up to 4x a day.

Kiehl’s Ultimate Strength Hand Salve. This is my go-to heavy-duty hand cream. I have some lighter hand creams that I use for day to day but when I need the big guns, I always turn to Kiehl’s.

I also reached out to Calgary-based Atmosphera for advice. They are unique in that they formulate skincare products tailored to the various Canadian climates. They sent me some products to try that are formulated for the Canadian North. Atmosphera Boost is a hydrating barrier that prevents moisture loss and defends against harsh weather conditions. If it’s good enough for Alberta winters, it will be great for Iceland.

Luminous, a tinted, mineral, waterproof sunscreen with an SPF of 44 also made the cut. I love the idea of a bit of pigment since I don’t wear foundation. You shop by climate so whether you live in the Maritimes or Northern Canada, they have products formulated for your environment.

Aquaphor, Lip Protectant + Sunscreen, Broad Spectrum SPF 30. This is an oldie but goodie lip staple. It’s not always easy to find the one with SPF here so I usually pick this up when I am in the US or order online.

post outdoor repair products:

alphascience skin cream

Alphascience is formulated to meet the targeted needs of consumers, plastic surgeons and dermatologists. Because I needed a super rich skin cream, I immediately turned to this French line of skincare products.

Alphascience Ultra Deep is made for mature skin. It softens wrinkles but most importantly, it deeply hydrates and improves the skin’s appearance. One week of using it and my skin already looks and feels more plump. They also sent the HA Booster Serum to go with it. I mix a couple of drops of this booster into the Ultra Deep morning and night. It contains vegetal taurine which offers protection from environmental stressors and improves skin quality.


Olaplex #3 Conditioner is a must while I enjoy outdoor thermal baths to protect it against any damaging minerals. Some thermal baths, like the Blue Lagoon, are rich in silica which is great for your skin but not for colour-treated hair like mine. I plan to slather it up with #3, slap on a bathing cap and then wash it out before shampooing post-soak. They say silica is not harmful but it leaves hair looking and feeling like straw so, Olaplex it is.

I already use their #4 and #5 shampoo and conditioner so that is what I am bringing with me. The most important part of hair care is a hat. My hair is not long enough to braid or pull back so, I need to cover it up when I am outdoors. The wind in Iceland is intense year round so add in the cold and that means a toque whenever I am outdoors.

Got long hair? Be sure to tightly braid or secure it in a snug ponytail. A wide tooth comb will gently detangle at the end of the day but there is nothing sexy about wind-damaged tresses. Keep that hair covered up by a hat. So, armed with everything I need to protect my skin and hair, I am ready to brave untamed Iceland. Does Bjork know that I’m coming?