We all know how important it is to take care of our skin and protect it from the summer sun. But do you know its just as important to take care of your skin in the winter? The harsh wind and cold air can make skin dry irritated and chapped, making it even more susceptible to ultraviolet rays from the sun.
Below are some great tips from Duke University Health Systems and Skin Care Physicians.
Use a humidifier: Because the air inside your home tends to become very dry in the winter, it is important to use a humidifier to help keep your nasal passages from drying out and your skin from becoming dry, cracked and itchy.
Moisturize frequently: If your skin isn’t prone to breakouts, switch to an oil-based moisturizer in the winter. The more oil a moisturizer contains, the more moisture will be retained. Look for products with the word "ointment" on the label – they contain the most oil (approximately 80 percent oil and 20 percent water).
Protect your skin from sun damage: Although you are usually bundled up from head-to-toe in the winter, it is important to use a sunscreen on areas of your body that are still exposed – your face being the most important. Choose a moisturizing sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 15 (higher if you will be skiing). Also be sure to wear a lip balm containing sunscreen.
Dress in layers: Being bundled up in the winter can cause overheating – even if it’s cold outside. Overheating and sweating often leads to itching. If you wear layers, you can remove clothing as needed to prevent getting too warm. Choose loose-fitting cotton fabrics for the most comfort. Also be sure to wear gloves to protect your hands from the cold, dry air to prevent cracking and chapping.
Examine your skin-care regimen: Try not to use products like Retin-A or Renova without also using a high-SPF sunscreen. These products make your skin more susceptible to getting a sunburn. If you have sensitive skin, refrain from using sloughing products such as alpha-hydroxy acids because they have a tendency to aggravate dry, irritated skin.
Shed wet clothes immediately: If you’ve been out sledding or skiing, be sure to remove your wet clothes and shoes immediately after returning indoors. Wet clothing and shoes can irritate the skin and cause eczema.
Don’t take long, hot showers: Although the thought of a long, hot shower sounds great, they can suck all of the moisture out of your skin. Instead, take a short, warm shower, use a towel to pat your skin almost dry, and then use a good moisturizer while your skin is still damp. Use a super-emollient lotion for your hands, heels or any other place on your body where the skin is extremely dry or cracked.
See a dermatologist: If you develop severely dry skin, eczema or itchy skin, visit a dermatologist. He or she can often prescribe a mild cream or other treatment to restore moisture.
TREATING WINTER SKIN:
If the winter weather is wreaking havoc on your lips and skin, dont give up hope! There is an abundance of products on the market to treat dry, flakey chapped skin.
Lotions and creams: If you have normal/oily skin, you should use a lotion. If you have dry, flaky skin, you should use a cream. Basic moisturizers are made up of two main ingredients: humectants, which attract water molecules to the skin, and emollients, which soften skin by forming a protective layer on top, sealing in water. Lotions contain more humectants, and creams contain more emollients.
Facial moisturizer: Because the dry heat and harsh winds of winter strip the skin of essential moisture, it is important to look for facial moisturizers containing enriching ingredients or vitamins (such as vitamin E and amino acids). Stay away from acids and other peeling agents as they strip the skin even more.
Lip treatments: To avoid chapped, flaky lips during the winter, search for lip treatments containing shea butter, jojoba oil, avocado oil, mango oil and lip balm. These heavy ingredients help to replenish lost moisture.
Whole-body moisturizers: The skin on your body is naturally drier than the skin on your face. If you don’t have a problem with body breakouts, look for the heaviest cream or lotion you can find to re-hydrate your skin. Look for words like "body butter".
Exfoliants: Exfoliants are designed to shed the layers of dry, dead skin from areas of your body such as your elbows, knees and heels. If you suffer from dry or scaly skin, you should use an exfoliant between two and three times per week. Exfoliants should only be used on your body – not on your face. When choosing an exfoliant, look for one with super-hydrating ingredients.
Hand and foot treatments: Because the skin on your hand is a lot thinner than the skin on the rest of your body, it is more often exposed to drying agents. Look for products with intense moisturizers and gloves (you can often find them in a kit). As for feet, the skin is often rough and calloused, so look for an intense hydration product that also exfoliates dead skin.