Winter Skin Care Tips

During the winter, cold temperatures and dry air can wreak havoc on even the healthiest skin.  Keeping skin hydrated in the cold winter months can seem like an uphill battle, but it’s important to follow a winter skin care regimen.  When the skin’s protective barrier cracks, it is more difficult for it to self-repair, and this can exacerbate the problem.

Increase Moisture in the Skin

While keeping skin moisturized during other times of year may seem easy, low humidity and cold weather make this a challenge during the winter.  Whether you are spending time outside in the windy, frigid air or inside in a heated environment, both situations dry out skin quickly.  Using a humidifier or adding plants to your home or work environments are ways to increase the level of moisture in the air.  In addition, it is important to use products that are designed to increase the moisture level of the skin itself.  Lotions that contain humectants attract moisture, and products that contain non-clogging oils may also be helpful.  Don’t skip on sunscreen– containing products, however, as UV protection is still essential.  Snow glare can be particularly damaging for skin.

Exfoliate Regularly

Dead skin cells can prevent moisturizer from effectively soaking into the skin.  Gentle exfoliation can clear away these cells, revealing skin underneath that is in need of hydration.

Take Care of Your Lips

Dry, chapped lips can crack and become painful.  With few oil glands and thin skin, they require some extra help to stay moisturized.  Resist the urge to lick your lips when they feel dry, which actually can exacerbate the problem, and turn instead to a lip moisturizer or lip balm that can be applied throughout the day.

Protect Your Hands

The skin on hands also is thin, making it susceptible to increased damage during the winter.  When you are outside in cold temperatures, gloves are a great way to protect them from becoming dry.  Make sure that you remove wet gloves before they become irritating to skin.  Hand lotions can be used to keep skin hydrated, but if excessive cracking develops, it is important to consult with a physician, as this condition can be difficult to treat on your own.

Avoid Hot Baths and Showers

While a hot shower or soak may feel relaxing, it can break down skin barriers and cause dryness.  Short, warm showers are best during the winter months.  Always remember to apply moisturizer afterward to keep skin hydrated.  Doing so within the first three minutes of bathing is the best time to lock in moisture.  If applied at bedtime, a balm can help to repair lips overnight.  During winter sports activities, using a lip protectant with sunscreen can prevent UV damage.

Wear Non-Irritating Fabrics

Sweaters, scarves, and other clothing made of wool and synthetic fibers can irritate and dry out the skin.  If you opt for these items, put a layer of a natural material such as cotton between your skin and the irritant.

Your winter skin care regimen does not have to involve the most expensive moisturizers.  Following these tips and finding products that work best for your skin can go a long way toward preventing the dryness, irritation, and cracking that are common during the cold months.

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