Love the Skin You're In
... even during winter
by Guen Han
What is your top health concern during the winter? Maybe it’s your weight; the tempting holiday food can lead to a few extra pounds, and the frosty weather can discourage even the most avid exerciser.
Or maybe it’s your heart; the whirlwind pace can stress out even the calmest of people.
But what about your skin?
Even in the Triangle, the combination of wind, cold, indoor heating and variable humidity can really do a number on your skin, causing it to become dry, cracked and irritated.
Fortunately, there are a number of steps you can take to make sure that your outer layer remains healthy throughout the season.
Nothing feels as good as walking into a warm, toasty home at the end of a long, chilly day. But beware — turning up the heat can really dry your skin.
To avoid this, invest in a few humidifiers and place them strategically around your home. The appliances add moisture to the air, which can prevent drying.
Use Oil-Based Products
Be careful about what moisturizer you use during the winter because it may dry out your surfaces even more.
If you’re not prone to breaking out, switch to an oil- or emollient-based moisturizer because it retains moisture best by creating a protective layer.
Look out for moisturizers labeled “ointment” because they contain 80 percent oil and 20 percent water. “Night creams” are usually oil-based as well.
Make sure your moisturizer contains oils that are appropriate for the skin, especially when it comes to the face. Choose products that feature almond, primrose, avocado or mineral oil. Avoid those that can clog pores, like shea oil.
Also, choose a cleanser or soap that has oils and emollients, and if you really want to feed your skin, you can even add oils to the bath. Just watch out because they can make the tub slippery!
Skip Hot Showers and Baths
Although they may be tempting, pass up long and hot baths or showers because they can strip all the moisture from your hide.
Instead, take short (less than 10 minutes), warm showers and baths. After, be sure to pat mostly dry and moisturize the damp skin on both your face and body.
Protect Yourself From the Sun
Sunscreen isn’t just for the summer! Skin can become dry and cracked during the winter, which actually makes you more susceptible to harmful ultraviolet rays. This effect is further amplified by the sun’s great reflective powers when there’s snow.
So use sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 15 or more every day on the exposed parts of your body, such as your face, neck and hands.
You can even use a moisturizer that contains sunscreen; just be sure that the SPF is 15 or higher. Don’t forget to reapply!
Dress in Layers
Since we wear so much clothing in the winter, our bodies can become overheated and sweaty, which can cause itchiness and skin irritation.
To prevent this, sport lots of layers so you can remove clothing whenever it gets too warm. Cotton-based, loose-fitting items are best.
Follow a Regimen
It’s important to regularly slough off flaky skin, but rubbing with a washcloth or scrub can suck out moisture, so don’t wash or exfoliate too much.
Be sure to put to work a cleanser and not soap because soap can further aggravate dry skin. If your skin is extra dry, you can even use a facemask at night — when your epidermis is most receptive to repair. Make certain that it’s deep-hydrating and not clay-based because clay can draw moisture out.
Avoid Skin-Irritating Ingredients
Do you employ products with a tretinoin, such as Retin-A or Renova? If so, be aware that these ingredients make your skin more susceptible to sunburns, so be extra sure to turn to a sunscreen.
If you have sensitive skin, try to avoid products with harmful ingredients, such as alpha-hydroxy acids. Alcohol-based goods, such as astringents and toners, can also dry you out.
So look away from high alcohol content and look toward skin-enriching ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid, amino acids and vitamin E. You can also scope out stuff that contains a “humectant,” a substance that often includes glycerine and sorbitol, because it attracts moisture.
Remove Wet Clothes
Soaked garments and shoes can be irritating, so after coming indoors, be sure to get out of any soggy items.
See a Dermatologist If Necessary
Despite our best preventive efforts, sometimes we still develop extremely dry and cracked skin. If your condition becomes severe, be sure to consult a doctor, who can prescribe medications to help your hide reach a healthy state again.
When it comes to maintaining your skin during the winter, there are some areas that require a little extra attention.
Your kisser can become cracked and dry, but luckily, it’s less sensitive than the rest of you. Use balms containing heavy-duty oils, such as shea, mango and jojoba, to hydrate. They should also have sunscreen.
For greater effect, exfoliate your lips first. And don’t lick – it’ll make them drier.
Since your hands have thinner skin and fewer oil glands and are exposed more often than the rest of your body, they require a little extra care.
For light hand-cleaning jobs, instead of scrubbing with harsh soaps and cleansers, use baby wipes. Always slather on moisturizer.
Wear gloves to protect you from dry air. If gloves tend to irritate, put on a thin, cotton mitten first.
Your tootsies can be dry all year round, and winter is no exception. The skin of your feet is rougher and thicker than that of the rest of your body, so exfoliate with a pumice stone or a similar product. Then, apply a moisturizing cream or lotion that contains petroleum jelly or glycerine to keep them soft and hydrated.
On stubborn areas, such as heels, use a super-emollient lotion. At night, you can apply cream and wear fluffy socks to seal in the softness.