As the winter chill enters the air, you will probably notice subtle changes in your skin. Seasonal changes in temperature and the lower humidity can trigger dryness and ashiness. Those with normal, combination or oily skin will find that their skin can become drier. For those who already have dry or sensitive skin, it can worsen during the winter months.
Cold winter air and harsh winds draws moisture out of the skin, and many of the things we do during the winter to keep warm can also contribute to this dryness.
Here are tips to keep your skin well hydrated, soft and smooth through the winter season.
1. Hydrate the Skin. Be sure to keep the skin hydrated to alleviate dryness and itchiness.
2. Be Gentle. Use gentle products, formulated for dry skin and that are alcohol free to avoid further drying out the skin.
3. Moisturize When Needed. Moisturize whenever skin feels dry and itchy. Use the nighttime hours to treat yourself to moisturizing facial and body masques. Moisturize dry hands and feet with moisturizing butters like shea and cocoa butter and cover with cotton gloves and socks overnight.
4. Shorten Bath Time. Take shorter showers and baths. Long showers and soaking in the tub too long can strip the skin of natural oils. Try to keep baths and showers to 15 minutes or less.
5. Stop Getting Into Hot Water. Shower and bath in lukewarm water. It’s tempting to take long hot showers and baths, but hot water will also rob the skin of moisture. To lock moisture into the skin after bathing, do not completely towel dry. Pat skin with a towel to absorb excess water and apply moisturizer while the skin is still damp.
6. Stay Soap-Free. Use non-alkaline, soap-free cleansers on the skin. Soap also strips the skin of natural oils. Also avoid deodorant soaps, which are harsh and drying. Use non-alkaline body washes; super fatted and unscented moisturizing bath soaps.
7. Don't Over-Cleanse. Don’t wash the face more than once or twice a day. Try cleansing the face at night when you have the most grime, environmental pollutants and makeup on the face. Then rinse the face with warm water in the morning and immediately apply a moisturizing face cream with sunscreen. Excessive washing removes the protective lipid layer of the skin’s surface causing it to dry out.
8. Exfoliate. Exfoliate skin 1 – 2 times a week with a gentle exfoliating cleanser or scrub. There are some exfoliating body washes on the market that are gentle enough to use daily. Sometimes the skin, especially black skin, can have an abnormal exfoliation cycle. The cells buildup and form a barrier making the skin look ashy and become resistant to lotions. Read Kick Ash! No More Ashy Skin for more information on treating ashy skin.
9. Don't Rub Skin the Wrong Way. When exfoliating the skin, be sure to not rub the skin too hard, especially if you have sensitive skin. Gently massage the exfoliant into the skin with circular motions and then rinse with warm water.
10. Reduce Indoor Heat. The dry indoor heat also contributes to dry skin. Make sure that the temperature of your home is not too hot. Keep the temperature between 68 – 70 degrees.
11. Spend Less Time by the Fire. While sitting near fireplaces feels warm and cozy, it also dries out the skin.
12. Use a Humidifier. Use a humidifier, especially in the bedroom. If you don’t have a humidifier you can place a bowl of water near the source of heat to keep moisture in the air.
13. Avoid Wool. Avoid wool sweaters and scarves and other harsh fabrics that rub against the skin and cause dryness. Wear softer, more breathable fabrics like cotton and cashmere.
14. Use Sunscreen. Always use sunscreen in the winter months, even on cloudy, overcast days.
15. Avoid Chapped Skin and Remember the Lips. Put moisturizers and sunscreen on the skin 30 minutes before going out into the cold. Going outside before the creams and lotions absorb into the skin can cause dryness by the liquid evaporating or freezing on the skin contributing to dryness and chapped skin. Don't forget the lips. Wear a moisturizing lipstick or lip balm with SPF.
16. Drink Water. Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Even though water does not actually moisturize the skin, it keeps your insides hydrated and helps remove toxins and keep skin cells functioning properly.
17. Is It More Than Dry Skin? Skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema can worsen during the cold, winter season. You may need to see your dermatologist for suggestions for how to take care of your skin during the winter months.
18. Eat For Warmth, Healthy and Beauty. Be sure to eat a healthy diet. This season is perfect for warm vegetable-based soups, loaded with vitamins and antioxidants.