Climate, Johannesburg, Moisturiser

High Altitude, Dry Altitude

Jo’burg is located up on a plateau, known as the Highveld, which is some 1753 metres or almost 6000 ft above sea level. Yes, we live about a mile high. One of the things you quickly notice is that the air up here is crackling and dry, particularly in the winter months when rain is scarce.

Hazards of High Altitude Living

This results in dry-wizened-zombie-hag skin which feels like it’s going to crack and fall off at any given moment.

Other problems include wooden furniture drying out and cracking, static hair and electric shocks, but the Zombie skin is probably the most annoying one.

Combating Zombie Skin

Most people have hand creams, moisturiser and lip balm in good supply dotted about the house and car. Many children get a dreadful ring of  dry skin around their mouths caused by ‘lip lickers syndrome’ – basically they can’t stop licking their dry lips.  Our doctor recommended SBR repair SBR skin barrier repair special cream for dry skin at high altitudefor dealing with lip lickers, it works wonders overnight, but by bedtime the following day the ring is back and the cream needs reapplying.

When I was back in the UK this summer I spent the first three days of the holiday stroking my own cheek, marvelling at its soft youthful dewiness. Of course it didn’t last, returning to Jo’burg we’d already spent almost 11 hours on a moisture sucking plane, then we stepped out onto the Highveld and I could feel my face tightening further.  Return of the Zombie skin.

Kids are Charmingly (Brutally) Honest

This morning (like just about every morning) I couldn’t find my moisturiser.

Me:                  Kids, have you seen my moisturiser?

Pickle:            What’s moisturiser?

Sweetpea:     It’s what old people use to make their skin look young.

Me:                   Yes, that’s right.  Old people…….and Zombies (affects dead eyed stare, raises arms and marches towards them).

Read about other quirks of Mile High Living here.

7 thoughts on “High Altitude, Dry Altitude”

  1. Haha! The amount of static in winter ‘shocks’ me! I have found for my son’s dry lips he has a Labello stick in his school blazer pocket but despite this he also gets dry lips. Sometimes I just use Fissan Paste (used for bum rash in babies). Put it on at night before they go to sleep. And as for you – this is the secret – ( just note that the shower floor can get rather slippery with the blue one! Brilliant product! From Debs


  2. I just had an email from an old friend who did an expat stint in Cape Town where they faced the opposite problem caused by the climate: “After months of Cape Town’s horribly humid winter weather where we literally lived in sea mist for weeks on end, our apartment was covered in mould, I was wearing damp clothes as the laundry just wouldn’t dry, and my sinuses were in a really bad way. I’d never had any sinus troubles before, but this was pain like I’d never known it. We were due to go on Safari in Kruger and Sabi Sands and I was really worried about the flight etc so went to see a doctor. He didn’t do much – but 10 days in the dryness of Kruger cleared it all up. So pile on that moisturiser and be glad you’re not in the damp winter of Cape Town!”


  3. We had the exact opposite when we lived in St Lucia – one of the most “moist” places I have ever lived. I returned home to the UK one summer and thwappp my skin dried up like a wizened litttle old lady! I had to buy extra moist moistuising cream and under-eye special, everyone thought there was something wrong with me! Good thing I never made a direct move from there to here…..


    1. Thanks Clara. Yes, a direct move could have been catastrophic, perish the thought. Dry skin has to be one of the more unusual ‘perils’ of the expat life we lead. There are a few other notable quirks to living at high altitude which I’ll be covering soon. Watch this space.

      Liked by 1 person

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