Cold weather can cause our skin to be dry, flaky, red, and inflamed faster than you can say "knitwear." But it is possible to keep your complexion plump, happy, and luminous throughout the winter months. Winter can wreak havoc on your skin — making it dry, itchy, and irritated. And it can feel like there’s no escape: Cold, blustery conditions outside can leave your skin feeling raw, while indoor heat zaps moisture from the air and from your skin. But there are many simple ways to combat the causes of dry skin and help keep your skin feeling moist and supple all season long, including some easy changes to your everyday routine
Your skin has a natural tendency to attract moisture from the environment and keep itself hydrated. Winter months are responsible for low humidity levels, which fails to maintain skin health and makes it dry.
We also tend to overuse harsh soaps and hot water that can result in the eradication of our skin’s protective barrier. Certain oils are essential to prevent water loss in the skin. When the skin barrier breaks, our skin loses its essential oils and moisture.
Here are some other tips to keep in mind when it comes to effective winter skincare, so that you can feel your best all winter long.
Invest in a Humidifier to Maximize Moisture
Using a humidifier in your home or office will add moisture to dry winter air and help keep your dry skin hydrated. Run a humidifier in the rooms you spend the most time in, including your bedroom.
The products you use during the sultry summer months may not work for your winter skin. If you generally use a lotion or gel, shift to a heavy, cream-based moisturizer. This will prevent skin irritation and soothe your skin.
Lotions that come out of a pump tend to be thinner and more watery, so they can often just evaporate from the skin's surface after application and are not thick and moisturizing enough. A good humectant is hyaluronic acid , which draws water into the skin. Skin barrier - repair creams such as Vaseline contain emollients and can be applied afterward. These help decrease the loss of moisture into the environment over time
Limit Shower Time and Temperature
In the winter, especially, it is tempting to crank up the heat, but hot water strips the oils from your skin and can leave it more susceptible to drying out, cracking, and flaking, Most doctors advise keeping the temperature below 110 degrees. If your skin turns red while you bathe, it is recommended to bring the temperature down.
Use bath time to hydrate “Baths are a gift to dry winter skin. Not only do they provide the all-important relaxation to switch of those skin-damaging stress hormones, but baths are a marvelous opportunity to hydrate skin. If you suffer with eczema, Balneum Plus Bath Oil can hydrate skin and reduce itching," says Dr Hextall. For a treat, they recommend Jo Malone Orange Blossom Bath Oil and the This Works Deep Sleep Bath Oil
Modify Your Facial Skin-Care Regimen for the Season
During the winter months, choose cream-based cleansers, and apply toners and astringents sparingly, if at all. Many astringents contain alcohol, which can further your dry skin. When your skin is dry and itchy, the AAD recommends you stop using products that contain alcohol and fragrances in order to help winter skin retain its natural oils. At night, use a richer moisturizer on your face.
Maintain healthy skin by moisturizing after washing up. "It's best to use a cream or ointment in the winter. Lotions are better in warmer, humid climates. And don't forget your hands,” says Dr. Stein Gold. Hand-washing, as the CDC notes, is vital, especially during cold and flu season. But, as Stein Gold points out, "constant washing will cause the hands to take a beating.”
Applying a hand cream after each washing can help, Stein Gold adds. She also recommends wearing waterproof gloves when washing dishes or cleaning around the house.
Dry skin builds up and when you moisturize, you are re-hydrating dead skin. Exfoliation is key It may be tempting to skip exfoliators when your skin's feeling sensitive from exposure to dry, cold air. Exfoliating eliminates the dead skin cells and keeps the top layer of your skin as fresh and absorbent as possible But exfoliating ensures you're clearing away any dead skin cells that can flake off and cause dry skin. Plus, they help your moisturizer and skincare really soak in. The key is to use a more gentle formula than you would in the summer, and exfoliate less often.
Moisturize your skin thoroughly. Switch to an oil-based moisturizer in the winter; your skin will appreciate it. Consider overnight deep moisturizer treatments which can help particularly dry areas like hands feet elbows knees and lips. Cover with cotton gloves and socks to hold the moisture in all night long.
Apply Sunscreen — Even on Gray Winter Days
On bright winter days, snow reflects the sun’s rays . Whether you’re out on the slopes, playing in the snow, or just walking through a parking lot on an errand run, it’s just as important to be applying sunscreen in the harsh winter weather as it is in the summer.
And don’t be fooled by darker, dreary days in winter, either. The sun’s harmful UV rays can permeate clouds and still cause damage.
SPFs are still very important because although the temperature drops, there's still radiation year-round, and even small amounts of radiation can add up to the cumulative damage that leads to skin cancer, wrinkles, pigmentary problems, and aging of skin
Protect your lips
The skin on your lips is pretty thin and loses moisture easily, which can result in dry, flaky, chapped lips. It's always important to carry a good lip balm with you to rehydrate and protect on the go. Not only do lip balms provide an added physical layer between your lips and the cold, moisture-sucking air, but they also deliver essential nutrients to keep lips moisturized from the inside out. Unlike our skin, lips don't have oil glands to keep them moisturized. Because of this, it's extremely important to take care of them.
Bonus: You can swipe lip balm onto your cuticles and dry spots in a pinch.
Drink lots of water.
When it’s cold outside we often forget to drink enough water throughout the day, but this is just when low humidity is most likely to strip our poor skin of its moisture. Remember to sip slowly through the day rather than gulp and to use a reusable bottle - our favorite is this one by Klean Kanteen. Indulging in warming winter teas such as natural ginger and lemon is a wonderful way to keep hydrated in winter - you will feel healthy, hydrated and cozy at the same time. It’s a win-win situation!
Choose a cleanser carefully.
Many high street cleansers actually contain harsh chemicals which can be damaging rather than nourishing. Ingredients such as alcohol and any added fragrances won’t do any favors for dry, cracked skin, as they strip away natural oils. Cream-based cleansers will help keep the moisture in, while still taking off the day’s dirt and make-up.
It's a good idea to trade in your current body wash for a more moisturizing hydrating cleanser in winter particularly if your usual choice contains drying ingredients like glycolic or salicylic acid. Tone and moisturize within 30 seconds of finishing cleansing to avoid further dehydration
Opt for Gentle, Fragrance-Free Cleansers
Bar soap can worsen dryness by stripping the skin's natural oils and disrupting the microbiome, Dr. Wesley says. “For those with dry skin, I recommend using body wash,” Dr. Hayag says. “Look for washes that are labeled ‘for sensitive skin' or ‘dye free' and ‘fragrance free.' Oftentimes they contain fewer drying ingredients and more moisturizing ones like hyaluronic acid , ceramides, oils , shea butter, and oats.” Also, look for products labeled “fragrance-free,” advises the AAD
These tips will help you prevent that uncomfortable unsightly result and keep your skin healthy and happy through the winter months.