As the weather gets colder, there is less humidity, the skin becomes drier, and the skin’s natural barrier can become compromised. Your winter skin care regimen should be more focused on restoring moisture than during any other time of the year. Below are some winter skin tips to keep your skin soft and supple in the cold weather.
1) Wear lip balm
Lips can dry out in windy weather making lip protection a must. Choose a lip balm with sunscreen for extra protection from the sun.
2) Avoid long hot showers
Although long showers are tempting in the winter, they should be avoided. This is because long hot showers can strip the skin of its natural moisture. It is best to take short warm showers. After the shower, pat dry (avoid aggressive rubbing or scrubbing) and then immediately apply a moisturizer to lock in the moisture. For dry winter skin, occlusive moisturizers that contain ingredients like petrolatum are very effective for the body. Petrolatum is typically too heavy for the face. Instead, look for ceramides in your facial moisturizer. They are not as heavy as petrolatum based products and are excellent at restoring the skins’ natural barrier.
3) Use a hydrating mask weekly to restore moisture
In the winter, gentle exfoliation is okay but you may consider switching to a hydrating mask (instead of an exfoliating mask) to combat dry skin and flaking which is very common in the winter months.
5) Use hand cream several times a day
Daily use of a hand cream is essential to prevent dry cracked skin in the winter. Keep it in your purse and reapply after hand washing and before putting on gloves in cold weather. Heavy moisturizers with petrolatum are often required for severe dry skin on the hands. Glycerin has a smooth silky feel and is also one of my favorite ingredients in hand creams.
6) Wear sunscreen with an antioxidant daily
The skin on the face is more vulnerable to environmental damage in the winter due to the damaging combination of wind and sun. Also you may not realize that, even if it is not sunny, sunscreen is just as important because the sun’s harmful rays can penetrate the clouds. Choose a sunscreen with an antioxidant to provide the best defense against the elements. Using a daily hydrating lotion with SPF can be a simple way to work sunscreen into your daily routine. These simple tricks will keep your winter skin tone even and radiant.
For those of you with very dry skin, I know finding the right moisturizer is a challenge. I have some helpful tips that can help combat this common problem. First and foremost, stop taking long hot showers. This strips the skin of its natural moisture. Instead switch to short warm showers. Once out of the shower pat dry with the towel and then lock in the moisture with an occlusive moisturizer like petrolatum or mineral oil. Aquaphor is a good choice for the body. Humectants (like glycerin) attract water so for very dry skin, so humectants can be very helpful. One effective approach is to apply a moisturizers with a humectants first and then to layer an occlusive moisturizer on top. Glycerin is one of my favorite ingredients for dry skin because it can give skin a very smooth silky feel. Eucerin Hand Cream is one of my personal favorites for dry skin on the hands. Another great item that simplifies the regimen is Olay’s In Shower Body Lotion. You apply it and rinse off and it leaves skin hydrated and smooth. This product is great for mild dry skin, however, for more severe dry skin, a separate moisturizer after showering is necessary. Look for natural oils like olive oil and cocoa butter to achieve hydrated, smooth, and radiant skin.
Dry skin can be a frustrating problem. Many times patients complain that no matter what lotion, cream or ointment they put on their skin, 10 minutes later their skin still feels dry. There are some simple things that you can do to overcome this problem. First, you need to look at the soap you are using. Soaps with harsh detergents like sodium lauryl sulfate can strip the skin of its natural oils and exacerbate dry skin. Choose gentle cleansers like Cerave, Cetaphil, or Vanicream which do not contain these harsh ingredients. Also avoid very long, hot showers because this can also contribute to dry skin. Second, any moisturizer should be applied to skin right after you shower. This locks in the moisture and makes the moisturizer much more effective. If you have very dry skin, you may need an ointment like Aquaphor. This is one of my favorite products, especially in the winter.
Some people also complain of ashy skin. This gray scaly appearance of the skin is most obvious in darker skin types. If this is severe, I sometimes recommend a moisturizer that contains lactic acid (Amlactin) which is over the counter to exfoliate the scale while at the same time hydrating and improving the skin texture. Prescription strength lotions with salicylic acid also work well to smooth dry scaly skin on the body. With these tips you should finally be able to overcome dry skin and achieve what we all want-smooth, soft, and radiant skin.