WINTER SKIN CARE
Winter Skin care. Snowstorms, frozen toes, iced-over windshields, runny noses, and chapped lips are all terrible reminders of Old Man Winter. He delights in making us all as miserable as possible. But he especially enjoys drying out our largest but most delicate organ, our skin. Yes, winter skin care is critical if we don’t want to let the old guy get the best of us. During the long, cold winters our skin is quite vulnerable and if we don’t take care, we can find ourselves in a world of hurt. But don’t fret because we’ve got your back! We’re going to give you the top 21 tips regarding winter skin care.
I know some of us like to hide out or even go into a full hibernation during the wintertime just to keep our skin protected from the wintry elements. However, with our comprehensive tips you will no longer have to stay in your bed under your covers (not that we are opposed to the idea). Following our tips will allow you to move about freely and not worry about damaging your beautiful skin. Winter skin care will be a cinch if you apply some, if not all, of the tips provided.
- Moisturizing is key for helping ward off dry winter skin. Every time you wash your body whether it is your hands, your face, or your feet you are striping the skin of its natural oils. Without these natural oils your skin will not be able to lock in moisture so you will need to replace them immediately. Of course, there is a wide variety of moisturizers from which to choose. Therefore, it’s a matter of personal choice as to which moisturizer you will use. Moisturizers that contain vitamin E, jojoba oil or olive-derived squalane would be helpful to lock in the moisture.
- A Humidifier is a good companion to have for winter skin care. Humidifiers are helpful for adding more moisture into the air. During the winter months some of us like to turn up the heat (okay maybe blast the heat) because we do not like being cold. Naturally, all that hot air is more than happy to zap the moisture right out of your skin which could lead to drying and cracking. But our buddy the humidifier comes to the rescue by acting as a natural hydrating agent. It can even replace moisture on the top layer of your skin keeping it soft and silky.
- Turn down the heat. Now that we just told you to blast the heat we are going to reverse that… sort of. After being out in the cold winter, coming home and taking a nice hot shower or bath sounds wonderful right? Of course, it does. But that would be the wrong thing to do for your dry winter skin. Hot water can quickly strip your skin of its natural moisture and possibly damage it. Lukewarm water is the better way to go. It is gentler on the skin and will not strip the natural oils as quickly as hot water.
- How you shower or bathe matters. Try not to spend more than 5 – 10 minutes if you shower or bathe daily. Any more than that could strip away the oily layer of the skin causing it to lose moisture. Now that you have enjoyed your super-quick lukewarm shower or bath it is time to dry off. Be sure to gently pat your skin with a soft towel and avoid harming your skin by rubbing it too energetically. The gentle patting can give your skin an opportunity to allow its natural oils to be absorbed by the top layer.
- Stay away from soap. Yes we know we just talked about showering and bathing and now we are telling you not to use soap. We are not trying to be contrarian, we swear. What we really want is for you to stay away from deodorant soaps, perfumed soaps or soap products containing alcohol. These are all things that will dry your skin. Instead try products that moisturize like Dove or Olay or soap-free cleansing washes like Cetaphil or Aquanil. On a side note, you can use bath oils if you like but be careful. They can make the shower or tub surface quite slippery, and you don’t want to have an accident. That could be embarrassing not to mention painful!
- Use an oil-based moisturizer. In the spring and summer, you may have a moisturizer that you particularly like to use, and it is probably water-based. However, winter is a different animal, and you will need to use a moisturizer that is oil-based. The oil will provide a protective layer on your skin which will keep more moisture than would a cream or lotion. Beware of the oil used in the moisturizer as some oils can clog the skin. Some oils that don’t clog the skin are avocado, mineral, primrose or almond oil. If you can find a moisturizer that contains humectants that would be ideal. Humectants would include glycerin, sorbitol and alpha-hydroxy acids.
- Use tons of sunscreen. Perhaps tons is not the right word but there’s nothing wrong with a little hyperbole to make a point right? You may think that because the winter days are shorter and offer less sunlight that you can just skip using sunscreen. Well think again friends. Harmful UV light does not go away in the winter, its rays are still harmful. Our skin’s moisture barrier is adversely affected by UV light and we need that barrier to maintain skin health and hydration.
- Incorporate overnight treatments. The great thing about using an overnight treatment is that it works for you while you sleep. Emollients, which are a heavier type of cream, take longer to be absorbed into the skin. While you rest, the emollients go to work being absorbed into your skin replenishing the moisture and oils it vitally needs. If you plan on moisturizing your hands or feet you may wish to wrap them in gloves, socks, or plastic bags. This will help avoid getting the thick, emollient ointments on your sheets, night clothes, or bed coverings. Grease stains are not fun!
- Help your hands help you. We all could use a helping hand but so could the skin on your hands. The skin is thinner on our hands than on most other parts of our body. That makes it more susceptible to the dry, cold weather and keeping the hands moist can be somewhat difficult. In view of this fact, it is imperative that you wear gloves when you go outside. Some gloves that are made of wool might irritate your skin. Try putting on a thin pair of cotton gloves before putting on the wool gloves to create a barrier between your skin and the wool.
- Manage your winter skin care routine. Keeping the skin’s natural moisture barrier healthy is crucial. If the barrier is not healthy it will not respond favorably to any beauty treatments you might try. So, take the time to notice if your skin is dry or irritated. Perhaps you need to eliminate ingredients like fragrances and alcohol from your skin care products. Or you may simplify your skin care routine by using a moisturizer and sunscreen in the morning. At night you might choose to use a gentle cleanser with a moisturizer. Once you are satisfied that your skin’s moisture barrier is healthy you can then begin to incorporate other beauty treatments into your winter skin care routine.
- Stay away from wet gloves and socks. This may seem like an obvious thing to do because who wants to wear wet clothing anyway? However, there is also a practical reason for avoiding wet gloves and socks. They will irritate your skin resulting in itching, cracking, sores, or even eczema. So even if you don’t mind being in damp clothing (we can’t imagine why you wouldn’t) it’s not a good idea to keep it on. Do your skin a favor and put on dry clothing as soon as you can.
- Use exfoliants and scrubs judiciously. Exfoliants are useful for removing dead skin cells from your skin and keeping it looking smooth and radiant. However, using an exfoliant too often or using the wrong product can do damage to your skin. A gentle chemical exfoliant could be used but that consists of a range of different acids and is a topic that should be considered in its own article. There are also physical exfoliants such as scrubs. These should be used with caution as they can contain large particles that can break down the skin’s moisture barrier. You may need to avoid any type of exfoliation if your skin has become cracked, raw, or irritated. Once the skin is healed you can resume exfoliation but just go easy on it.
- Stay hydrated for your health. It is a common misconception that if you drink lots of water it will make your skin glow and keep it looking young. The truth is that you can drink 80 ounces of water or more and still have dehydrated skin. Drinking plenty of water is good for your overall health and your skin benefits from the fluid you take in. So, the moral of the story is that although your skin does not reflect the amount of water that you drink you still need to drink plenty of water to keep your body healthy. On a related topic, it’s also important to hydrate your insides. You can do this by eating foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids or antioxidants. These nutrients offer a level of protection to your cells from environmental damage and encourage your body to make healthy skin cells.
- Keep your feet lubricated. No matter the time of year it is, we always seem to be in a battle with dry feet. Of course, this battle is ramped up to the degree in the wintertime. In warm weather, minty foot lotions and rubs feel refreshing and exhilarating. And that is great. But come winter, your feet will require products with more substance to them. Try using products that contain petroleum jelly or glycerin and use them from time to time in conjunction with an exfoliant. The exfoliant will help remove any dead skin cells while helping the lotion to absorb into the skin deeper and faster.
- Occlusives are your friends. Occlusive products are designed to stimulate oil production and protect the skin surface. These products are thick and lay on top of the skin to reduce trans-epidermal water loss. In addition, they help hold in moisture and protect the skin’s top barrier layer, which combats dryness.
- Avoid irritating materials or fabrics. Do you hear the word wool and shudder? How about acrylic, polyester, or nylon. All of these fabrics can be irritating to the skin for various reasons. Some scratch the skin, others contain toxic chemicals that penetrate the skin. Worse still, the man-made fabrics are known to trap odors because they simply don’t breathe. Yuck! The good news is that there are other fabrics that are actually good for your skin like fine cotton. Fine cotton is absorbent and draws moisture away from your body allowing your skin to breathe. Some other skin-friendly fabrics are fine silk, cashmere, hemp, alpaca and linen. So take the time to give thought to what clothes you buy because this too can help improve on how you take care of your skin.
- Change your laundry detergent for the winter. Your dry winter skin will thank you for doing so. In the summertime, we may like the fresh outdoor scent on our clothes that comes from the laundry detergent. However, those dyes and fragrances in the detergent can cause itching (not to mention sneezing). Oh yeah, your dryer sheets also can cause itching due to the dyes and fragrances found in them. Either don’t use the dryer sheets or look for ones made from a paper sheet instead of a composite fiber sheet. Look for detergents that are non toxic, phosphorus free and are safe for sensitive skin.
- Go easy on the hand sanitizer. If you were not into hand sanitizers before, the Covid-19 pandemic probably got you familiar with them quickly. They are good in a pinch if you are not able to wash your hands. However, they do contain about 60% ethyl or isopropyl alcohol which is great for killing bacteria and viruses. It also is good for drying out your skin which we don’t want. So, make sure you use hand sanitizers sparingly if you must use them at all.
- Beware of the toners. Since we were just speaking of alcohol we might as well talk about toners. Sure, it feels good to spray your face with a nice refreshing toner especially since they are good for restoring firmness to the skin. But they also contain alcohol that can dry your skin. Save the astringents for the balmy days of summer and instead try using an alcohol-free face mist with hydrating ingredients like natural oils and glycerin.
- Take care of those chapped lips. How to fix dry skin of the lips? Use a lip balm or lip oil. Cold, dry weather can wreak havoc on your lips. This can cause cracking and flaking skin. If this occurs make sure you don’t start picking at it. This will further irritate your lips and cause additional scabbing that can lead to scarring. So when you start experiencing dry lips apply your favorite lip moisturizer and seal it with lip oil on top.
- Use body oil during the winter skin care months to help your skin from feeling super dry. Make sure you use an oil that is moisturizing like jojoba oil, rosehip oil, and olive oil. Using these oils for your dry skin treatment can bring relief to dry areas of your body like your hands, feet, elbows, knees and lips.