December 22 2021 – Talya Cayce
The winter wonderland is upon us. And with it comes the possibility of months of itchy, dry skin. The cold season can wreak havoc on your skin. Blustery weather outdoors can zap your skin’s moisture. Indoor air is no escape for our complexions either. Indoor heating dries the air causing your skin’s hydration levels to plummet fast.
Even the most enjoyable of wintertime happenings, fireside chats, snowy strolls, and ice-skating can chew the moisture from your skin. Biting chill, indeed, for your complexion in the least. Even a lovely hot bath can strip your skin of its natural oils afterward.
Thankfully, there are remedies and temporary lifestyle changes that you can make to look and feel your best during winters. Below are tips to maintaining a beautiful, moisture-balanced skin all winter long and through the first days of spring.
Dry-proof Your Home
When the outside air is chilly, there is a tendency to turn up the heater inside your office or home. However, indoor heating can create even more dryness. Reducing winter indoor heating to comfortable levels, by setting the thermostat anywhere from 68°F to 72°F, ensures a healthy complexion with adequate moisture.
Humidity also drops during the winter season, and when the air is chilly and dry, the moisture from your skin evaporates faster. In turn, creating skin that's dry, itchy, and tight.
This dry, indoor air does not only dry your skin and hair, it also dries up mucus membranes, meaning dry lips, eyes, nose, and throat. Dry throat may even lead to sore throat, especially if sleeping with mouth parted. Alleviate dry indoor air by installing a humidifier in rooms you spend the most time, both in your home or office.
Out with the harsh, in with the gentle
Using the wrong soap can make your skin even drier. Choose a mild, moisturizing soap. Look for a gentle cleanser, like Castile liquid soap, that won’t strip your skin of its natural oils. You need a healthy level of those to maintain a healthy skin barrier. Or better yet, replace soap with moisturizing body wash or creamy face wash for the duration of winter. Avoid cleansers that contain fragrances and other irritating and drying ingredients.
Pick skincare products for winter
Switching from spring and summer skincare products to products suitable for the colder seasons of autumn and winter is essential if you tend to experience skin dryness and irritation during the latter months.
Replacing astringents and alcohol-based toners with milder, water-based toners is an effective step in preventing dry skin during winter. Choose heavier creams in place of face and body lotions, especially when applying before bedtime.
Keep the Antioxidant Serum
As you swap out most summer products with winter skincare products, serums need to stay part of your skincare regimen. As long as your face serum does not contain alcohol or other drying ingredients, your antioxidant face serum should be a mainstay in your vanity.
The skin gets targeted by free radicals all year, no matter the season. Free radicals cause hyperpigmentation due to sun damage, and disintegration of collagen, which then leads to premature aging. To combat free radical damage, you will need a face serum and other skincare products that are rich in antioxidants. Serums containing vitamins A, C, E, and B3, green tea, green coffee are good choices.
First, scrub and buff
You can slather layer upon layer of hydrating products, yet your dry skin condition will not improve without first exfoliating. Serums and creams are virtually useless when dead skin cells are present and act as a barrier, refusing access to the layer of fresh cells underneath.
Choose a mild liquid exfoliant like a product with lactic acid or glycolic acid. Or opt for natural abrasives like sugar, bamboo powder, salt, or coffee grounds. Buff your skin twice a week. Once the layers of dead skin cells shed off, skin is ready to absorb all the nourishment and hydration from your moisturizing skincare products.
SPF is for winter too
During bright winter days, even if you don’t feel the heat from the sun, it can still damage your skin. The snow can even intensify sun damage by reflecting the sun’s rays. The Skin Cancer Foundation says that the snow amplifies the sun’s rays through reflection by as much as 80%. Whether you’re making a snowman, skiing the slopes, or even just walking to the convenience store on a snowy day, it is just as essential to apply an SPF product as it is during warmer months.
It is a misconception that once the temperature drops at the start of winter you can skip sunscreen altogether. Don’t be tricked by the dreary dark skies. The UV rays from the sun can still penetrate clouds and bring damage to your skin. Remember to wear a hydrating broad-spectrum sunscreen on your face, neck, and all exposed skin - lips included.
Kick the lick habit
When the lips get dry, and it usually gets drier during winter, we tend to lick our lips in an involuntary attempt to tame rough skin and recapture lost moisture. But this action only worsens dryness and can even lead to a condition called lick or lip eczema.
Bacteria and digestive fluids in saliva can damage the lips. Moisture also evaporates quicker the more you lick your lips. Instead of licking, have your moisturizing lip balm ready and apply throughout the day, as needed.
Additionally, if you ski or will be in the outdoors for a while, use a lip product with SPF. Zinc oxide is an effective sunscreen that physically protects your lips. It also helps deflect the UV rays away.
Watch hot baths and steamy showers
On chilly days, hot baths and steamy showers are indeed soothing. But too long and too much heat can leave your skin dry and susceptible to irritations. Hot baths during winter should not be longer than 15 minutes, and hot showers, not longer than 10 minutes.
Use body moisturizer immediately, while the skin is still damp to quickly replenish moisture and soothe dryness. Choose creams over lotions during winter to hold in moisture longer. Lotions are water-based and will evaporate faster than creams.
Do it before bedtime
A nighttime skincare routine is a must for waking up with supple, healthy skin. Layer on your face serum, eye cream, and night cream. You can substitute night cream for a sleep mask treatment two to three times a week.