Winter is the most challenging season for skin care – but most of us fail to look after our complexions properly when the weather turns chilly. For many people, dry skin is a condition that often goes hand in hand with cool, windy weather. To protect your body from the cold, you stock up on hats, gloves, sweaters and parkas. But what should you be doing to protect your skin?
Here are a few tips that may hydrate, protect and soothe dry skin. Make sure to consult a healthcare professional, in the event your dry skin is accompanied by peeling, severe redness or itching, or open sores from scratching.
- Moisturize throughout the day
To help winter-proof your skin, don’t forget to moisturize throughout the day. Although your first impulse might be to reach for the richest moisturizer you can find, take in consideration: do you have oily skin or do you break out easily? According to top dermatologists, it’s not the viscosity of the products that makes the difference; it’s the level of active ingredients and most important thing is to find moisturizers that really penetrate and hydrate the skin. If your skin breaks out easily you should be mindful that petrolatum- or oil-based formulas may cause your skin to break out.
If you’re an individual with skin of color or a rich complexion be choosy when selecting a moisturizer. Humectants such as hyaluronic acid-based moisturizer can increase the amount of water that’s drawn into your skin. Emollients — like plant oils like jojoba oil help replace oils in the skin. You may want to avoid moisturizers that contain fragrances, lanolin and propylene glycol that may be irritating to sensitive darker skin types and in the long term contribute to discoloration.
- Keep your showers and baths short and not too hot
Water is not hydrating to your skin. It can be the enemy if you have dry skin. It’s the natural oils that you want, and water washes natural oils away. Appealing as a hot shower on a cold morning may be, lukewarm water is a better choice. It won’t strip away skin’s natural oils. Excessively hot water also dehydrates the skin.
So use warm water when you cleanse your face and limit yourself to one short five minutes warm shower or bath a day. Close the bathroom door while you bathe to keep the room humid.
- Don’t exfoliate too much
Exfoliation removes dead skin cells, allowing moisturizers to better penetrate your skin. If your skin is already dry and flaky, don’t exfoliate more than you normally would. Most dermatologists suggest taking out abrasive scrubs because they may weaken and strip your skin barrier at a time when it’s most needed. Skip fruit scrubs, which can be harsh. Instead, try a scrub with synthetic beads. These particles are more uniform in shape and can be less damaging to skin. Exfoliating should never hurt. If it does, stop or try a gentler product.
- Always make SPF a priority
Another huge winter skincare consideration should be sun protection. Though it’s been said a million times, the number one skincare advice is to wear sunscreen—yes, even during the winter. Winter sun—combined with snow glare—can be as damaging to the skin as the summer heat and light and it’s possible to get sunburn in the winter, which can make winter itch worse. Always make SPF a priority.
- Get a humidifier or Plug in your Humidifier
It’s cold outside! So you’re staying inside, with the heat on. That warm, dry air can mean parched, dry skin. Most places, including your office, are warmed with dry heat, which, as the name would imply, dries out your skin. Using a humidifier will allow you to adjust the water level in your environment. You can find inexpensive models at most drug stores. If you can’t get a humidifier, a clean container of water on the radiator next to your bed will also work.
It’s important to remember that everyone’s skin is different, and what may work miracles on one person’s complexion could wreak havoc on yours.