For many people, the cold clear days of winter bring more than just a rosy glow to the cheeks. They also bring uncomfortable dryness to the skin of the face, hands, and feet. For some people, the problem is worse than just a general tight, dry feeling: They get skin so dry it results in flaking, cracking, even eczema (in which the skin becomes inflamed).
Sound familiar? Read on to get 7 tips for boosting your winter skin care regimen, so that your skin stays moist and healthy through the winter months.
1. Seek a Specialist
If you go to your local drugstore, you’ll be hard put to find a salesperson who can give you good advice. That’s why going to an esthetician or dermatologist even once is a good investment. Such a specialist can analyze your skin type, troubleshoot your current skin care regimen, and give you advice on the skin care products you should be using.
2. Moisturize More
You may have found a moisturizer that works just fine in spring and summer. But as weather conditions change, so, too, should your skin care routine. Find an “ointment” moisturizer that’s oil-based, rather than water-based, as the oil will create a protective layer on the skin that retains more moisture than a cream or lotion. (Hint: Many lotions labeled as “night creams” are oil-based.)
You can also look for lotions containing “humectants,” a class of substances (including hyaluronic acid, glycerine, lipids and alpha-hydroxy acids) that attract moisture to your skin.
3. Slather on the Sunscreen
Sunscreen isn’t just for summertime. Winter sun — combined with snow glare — can still damage your skin. Try applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen with infrared protection to your face and your hands (if they’re exposed) about 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply frequently if you stay outside a long time.
4. Remember your hands
The skin on your hands is thinner than on most parts of the body and has fewer oil glands. That means it’s harder to keep your hands moist, especially in cold, dry weather. This can lead to itchiness and cracking. Wear gloves when you go outside; if you need to wear wool to keep your hands warm, slip on a thin cotton glove first, to avoid any irritation the wool might cause.
5. Hook Up the Humidifier
Central heating systems (as well as space heaters) blast hot dry air throughout our homes and offices. Humidifiers get more moisture in the air, which helps prevent your skin from drying out. Place several small humidifiers throughout your home; they help disperse the moisture more evenly.
6. Stay away from drying agents
If your facial skin is uncomfortably dry, avoid using harsh cleansers, masks, and alcohol-based toners or astringents, all of which can strip vital oil from your skin. Instead, find a cleansing milk or mild foaming cleanser, a toner with no alcohol, and masks that are “deeply hydrating,” rather than clay-based, which tends to draw moisture out of the face. And use them a little less often.
7. Ban Superhot Baths
Sure, soaking in a burning-hot bath feels great after frolicking out in the cold. But the intense heat of a hot shower or bath actually breaks down the lipid barriers in the skin, which can lead to a loss of moisture. You’re better off with just warm water and staying in the bath or shower for a shorter period of time. A lukewarm bath with oatmeal or baking soda can help relieve skin that is so dry it has become itchy. Apply a hydrating, lipid based moisturizer on the entire body daily as well.