Along with sleet, chilling winds and designer clearance sales, winter can be brutal on your skin. Just as you pack away your heavy winter coat when the temperatures start to rise and pull it out of the closet when they dip again, you should also change your skin care regimen from season to season. Unless you live in an area with a near-constant year-round climate, your skin care routine needs to be expanded and edited, depending on the time of year. And the extreme seasons – summer and winter – deserve special mention.
Home-heating sources can turn your supple outer layer into something even an alligator couldn’t live in. From forced-air heat to wood stoves and fireplaces, indoor heat dries skin out so you’ll need a heavier moisturizer to make up the difference, especially on your hands, feet, face and neck.
Although you don’t think of sunburn as a risk on cold days, it’s the UV light that burns, not the temperature. Make adequate sun protection a vital part of your skincare routine all year round. Sun damage causes dry skin plus a long list of other problems – premature wrinkles, rough texture, dark spots, and skin cancer. The damaging effects of UVA and UVB rays are just as powerful during the winter. Use an SPF of 30 anytime you will be outdoors all year round. Even for incidental sun exposure, choose a daytime moisturizing lotion with a minimum SPF 30. For prolonged sun exposure, a broad-spectrum sunscreen to protect from UVA/UVB rays with a higher SPF and applied every few hours is the way to go.
Problem dry skin can mean severe roughness, cracking, scaling and flakiness which be a sign of a vitamin deficiency or other health issues. Commonly found on elbows, knees, calves, feet, hands, sever dry skin can be resistant to every day moisturizers. The cause of the flakes is the build up of the uppermost layers of skin (stratum corneum) which have difficulty shedding. In the winter, due to cold dry air and heat soaks humidity out of the air, leaving your skin prone to dehydration, irritation, and annoying rashes. Dry skin is thinner, more fragile, and has less of a protective barrier, so moisture is lost through the skin.
TIPS TO KEEP SKIN IN THE MOISTURE ZONE
- Use warm water only when bathing and don’t soak for too long
- Combat dry winter skin by using a mild cleanser without soap or detergents. For cleansing, wipes work great for exfoliation.
- Use a moisturizing soap or body wash that contains lubricating ingredients (allantoin, EFAs, hyaluronic acid, shea butter)
- Use a heavier moisturizer – choose a cream or oil based formula over a light lotion – apply liberally and more frequently throughout the day
- Avoid irritants and chemical exposure, skip products containing alcohol, and always rinse off chlorine and salt water
- Turn on a humidifier at home and at the office
- Use a hydrating conditioner for your hair and sleep in a hair mask once a week to avoid split ends
- Avoid long exposure to extreme cold and steam heat
- Spray on body oil after bath or shower while skin is still damp
- Choose an oil base foundation or tinted moisturizer for color plus extra hydration
- Keep delicate lips lubricated 24/7, even when you sleep
- If you’re using cosmeceutical grade products like acids or prescription retinoids that can be irritating, they may lead to extra dryness in the winter. Try using these products less frequently, or on alternating days.