Tips for Caring for Your Skin this Winter
Along with the hustle and bustle of the holiday season also comes dry, cooler winter air, which can wreak havoc on your skin. Even if you live in a milder climate, your skin may react when cooler air with less humidity rolls through. But the good news is that you don’t have to simply deal with dry, cracked skin and lips until spring rolls around again. Here are some pointers for keeping your skin smooth, soft and healthy all winter long.
What Causes Dry, Itchy Winter Skin?
One cause of dry skin is reduced natural moisturizing factor (NMF), a blend of amino acids found naturally in our skin cells that works to hold in moisture. Dry skin has less NMF, and environmental factors such as sun exposure and dry air decrease levels of NMF in our skin.
Our skin compensates for arid air by producing more NMF, but it can take time (at least three days) for cells to ramp up and produce more. This is why skin often flakes and cracks for the first few days that you are in a dry climate and then seems to adjust. You cannot speed this process by applying anything topical but getting more than 7 hours of sleep a night and reducing stress may help.
To give your skin a helping hand this winter, you can:
1. Increase Moisturizer Strength and Usage
Any type of skin can become dehydrated come winter. Oily skin types that can get away with just a daily sunscreen during the summer months may find that they need something a little heavier for the winter, and year-round dry types usually need a more intense hydrator in cooler weather.
It does help, though, to know your skin type so that you can better custom-tailor the moisturizers you’re using to fit your skin’s unique needs. For more information about how to find your Baumann Skin Type, head over to www.skintypesolutions.com.
2. Prep Your Skin for Outdoor Activities
If your travels take you to a cold, snowy climate, you’ll need to take some precautions. Whether you plan on heading outside to ski, build a snowman or simply enjoy the scenery, it’s important to shield your skin from the elements with a moisturizer that contains occlusive ingredients. When exposed to rough cold wind it is a good idea to slather on a product that delivers hydration and protection such as Skinceuticals Triple Lipid Restore. If you need a cheaper option, Aquaphor and Vaseline Petroleum Jelly can protect your skin from windburn while skiing but they are too greasy for everyday use. Remember to apply sunscreen since UV rays reflect off of ice and snow. Lip balm with SPF is essential to help keep your lips smooth and healthy in the face of UV rays and cold winter winds. (Lips do not make sebum so they have less protection against cold and UV rays than the rest of your face.)
3. Rethink Your Skin Type
Your Baumann Skin Type can change. Extreme weather conditions such as excess dryness or cold can impair your skin barrier causing you to be a dry skin type in winter and an oily skin type in summer. It also can vary by where you are. In Miami, you might be an oily type and in Scottsdale Arizona a dry type. Some people refer to this as combination skin but your skin type is actually changing due to environmental influences. When your skin type changes it is necessary to adjust your skincare regimen accordingly. Most likely if your skin does not look it’s best in winter, you are a dry skin type. Use a creamy foaming cleanser and a barrier repair moisturizer.
4. Change Your Cleanser
In colder months your skin needs more protective lipids. For this reason, don;t use foaming cleansers during the cold dry months. Instead, opt for a creamy cleanser such as IS Clinical Creamy Cleanser or VMV Hypoallergenics Moisture Rich Creammmy Cleansing Milk. If you want a cheaper option- the tried and true Dove soap bar is a great way to deposit protective lipids on your skin. Once it warms up don’t forget to change back to your summer cleanser to prevent clogged pores and acne that can occur in humid months.
5. Use a Humidifier
Indoor heating systems pull all of the humidity out of the air. Using a humidifier can save your skin in the winter. Put one in your bedroom so that your skin will be exposed to some moisture while you sleep.
When to See a Dermatologist
If extra protection and hydration don’t improve your dry skin, see your dermatologist. Eczema tends to worsen in the winter and you may need a prescription medication. When dryness progresses to cracked or raw skin, your doctor can recommend over-the-counter or prescription products that can soothe, heal, and help your skin look beautiful until warmer weather returns.
Dr. Leslie Baumann, M.D. and her team at Baumann Cosmetic Dermatology believe in proof, not promises. World-recognized for both cosmetic and general dermatology, our treatment strategies rely exclusively on evidence-based, scientifically verified products and procedures that promote skin health and a natural appearance. We combine effective medical procedures with individualized instruction on proper skincare, nutrition, supplementation and lifestyle in order to maximize the health of the skin and body as a whole while minimizing the effects of aging. For more, visit Dr. Baumann’s blog for daily updates Monday through Friday, or inquire about an appointment through Derm.net.