I used to have a job for which I traveled to Moscow (Russia, not Idaho) for a few days every February. I thought those were the coldest, most wintry business trips I’d ever take. Until last weekend, when work required me to spend two days on Alaska’s North Slope.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Prudhoe Bay area, here’s a quick primer: It’s home to the largest oilfield in North America. It sits in the middle of a vast expanse of tundra. And it sits 250 miles above the Arctic Circle.
The average high temperature for Prudhoe Bay this time of year is 3 degrees below zero.
That’s right, I said the average high.
My skin is pretty sensitive to cold, dry weather. I don’t have too much trouble with that here in Anchorage, which sits right on the coast and is relatively temperate by northern standards. We get the occasional bitter cold spell, but for the most part it’s not dry enough to bother me too much. I knew that the weather on the Slope, though, was likely to dry out my skin, particularly on my legs, which get painfully dry in extreme cold. (Then they chafe against my clothes, and that’s even more awful and painful. You know the feeling, I think.) So I packed a couple of holiday products I’ve been using and liking here at home: The Body Shop body butter and body scrub in Candied Ginger. I mentioned Candied Ginger in my November favorites. The smell is spectacular, and I was confident they’d stand up to the Arctic weather.
This is what it looked like in Prudhoe while I was there:
That’s snow whipping across the road in 30 mph winds. I took this photo around noon on Sunday. That’s as light as it gets there this time of year. They get a couple of hours of what you might call twilight, and the rest of the time it’s completely dark. They won’t see the sun peek above the horizon until late January.
I used the body scrub in the shower both days I was there, following up afterward with a generous application of the body butter. I also used the body butter before bed.
Let me tell you: The Body Shop did not disappoint. If I didn’t stay well moisturized, I’d still be feeling the effects of the cold weather today. But I didn’t have a moment’s discomfort (aside from the wind whipping in my face, and I don’t think there’s a bath and body product that can fix that). My skin stayed comfortable and moisturized all weekend. Not to mention that I smelled amazing underneath my many layers of Arctic gear. I wished I’d packed a similarly effective lip product; my lip balm kept wearing away too quickly, and I think I spent half the weekend digging for the tube in my parka pockets so I could reapply.
Bottom line: If this product can keep my sensitive skin soft and comfortable on the cold, dry tundra weather of the North Slope, it can stand up to just about any weather anywhere. I’m stocking up before my next work-related trip — if I keep following the precedent I’ve set, I’d imagine my next round of business travel will route me through Antarctica.