By Wendy Camassar
Now that we are well into the winter season, your skin may be showing signs of the harshness of cold, dry weather. Even though good, old Punxsutawney Phil has predicted an early spring, it’s not too late to winter-proof your skin to get through the remaining weeks of winter. There are several skin-saving steps to take to combat winter itch, dry flakes, and redness around the nose. Here are some tips I’ve found that may help combat your skin’s common problems for this time of year:
Dry, Flakey Skin: Cold weather can cause skin to become overly dry and begin to flake. Try to use a mild exfoliant one to two times per week to avoid over drying and irritation. After showers and exfoliating, use a moisturizer that contains humectants (ingredients that will attract moisture to the skin) and one that is more emollient in texture to really seal in water. I recommend using an exfoliant for the body separate from one for the face. You want to go as gentle as possible here to avoid irritation.
Chapped lips: Our lips don’t have oil glands; therefore, they become dry easily. Using a good lip balm will help keep lips soft, healthy, and moist. I prefera natural brand, like Burt's Bees Lip Balm, to use during the winter. Avoid licking your lips to keep them moist because doing so will only cause them to chap and dry out faster. I try to avoid lip balms that contain petrolatum. This ingredient is good at creating a barrier to protect the skin, but it doesn’t allow for additional moisture to come through. The end result can often be drier skin than before.
Chapped hands: Try an emollient moisturizer before going out, but don’t forget to put your gloves on! The skin on the back of our hands is thin, and cold weather will cause it to dry and crack quickly. Keep several tubes of hand cream in your car, desk, home, and purse and use it often during the winter.
Winter itch: Try to resist prolonged hot showers this time of year. Even though hot water warms us up, it can have a drying effect on the skin. Switch over to a mildly warm shower, pat dry with a towel, and then immediately apply your moisturizer. The more wet the skin is when doing this, the better. You want to trap as much moisture to the skin while applying lotion because this will keep the skin’s surface hydrated longer.
The key is hydration following exfoliation, and limiting the skin’s exposure to the elements as much as possible. Don’t forget sunscreen if you will be outside on a sunny winter day. Sunscreen in winter is just as important as in the summer; however, you can usually use a lower SPF during this time of year. I like to purchase foundations and moisturizers that have a sunscreen in them to take care of two things with one product.
The New Science of Perfect Skin: Understanding Skin-Care Myths and Miracles for Radiant Skin at Any Age by Daniel Yarosh
Skintervention: The Personalized Solution for Healthier, Younger, and Flawless-Looking Skin by Scott-Vincent Borba