As winter is upon us you have probably noticed that your skin is getting dryer. This is common. Your skin changes throughout the seasons of the year and it requires different care and treatment depending upon the season. So what should you be doing for winter skin? Glad you asked. With the cold of the winter season your skin needs better protection. This means preserving or adding to the natural oils that protect our skin. Here are some tips for you.
1. Ease Up On The Exfoliation
Many cleansers and other skin care products we use contain active ingredients such as the alpha hydroxyl acids (think glycolic acid) which promote exfoliation or skin cell turn over. These are great for making your skin look fresher but they also can dry out your skin during the winter months. So you may want to tone it down. If there is a product like this that you use every day, then back off to using it every other day or even once or twice a week.
You may also need to change your facial cleanser or other products. Since you skin’s needs are different with the seasons, you may need to change your products with the seasons as well. Consider moving from your glycolic cleanser to a gentler one, or one which also moisturizes or hydrates.
(Our new SkinMedica Sensitive Skin Cleanser is perfect for dry winter skin and gets off eye makeup likety-split.)
2. Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize
You really need to moisturize, but then I may already have said this. Everyone will tell you that it is best to apply moisturizer while your skin is still a little damp. This applies to your face, your hands, and the rest of your body. In addition to keeping in your body’s own oils, the moisturizer will also help to protect you skin as a barrier to the cold.
You may also add a hydrating product to your antioxidants. I highly recommend the award-winning HA5 from SkinMedica. Feel free to play around with things. For instance, if you head to Colorado to ski, know that it may be colder and more arid than your skin is used to, so alter your skin care plan during your trip.
Incidentally, your hands actually take a bigger hit with the cold than anywhere else on your body so keep a good hand moisturizer around and use it often, especially if you wash your hands a lot during the days. Don’t forget your gloves either. When it’s cold outside, be nice to your hands and protect them from the wind and cold.
(Here are our patient’s choices for best moisturizers.)
3. Long Hot Showers Are Not Good For You
When you’ve been outside and need to warm up, it’s tempting to hop in the shower and turn up the heat. You may even stay there until the hot water heater gives out but this is not good for your skin. The hotter the water, the more it removes you skin’s natural oils and barriers. The longer you are in the shower, the more this happens. Go with warm water not scalding hot (and leave some hot water for everyone else in the house!)
4. Give Your Skin A Treat
While long hot showers are out, a soak in a warm tub can be great, especially if you add something to the bath water. If you have a lot of itching and irritation, try an oatmeal bath. Baking soda can also work. If you are looking for some added moisture, add a couple tablespoons of olive oil, just be careful getting out of the tub. You can even use olive oil and oatmeal together (but I would leave out the balsamic vinegar…just saying).
Winter is also the most popular time for a relaxing Hydrafacial MD procedure in our office. Your skin will soak it up.
5. Continue To Protect
You still need your sunscreen even in the winter. Even though the days are shorter and we are all looking for sun to cure our affective seasonal disorder, the sun’s rays can still damage your skin. One of the easiest ways to remember to wear your sunscreen is to use a skin care product or makeup with sunscreen in it. If you’re heading up to the mountains to ski or down to the Caribbean to escape the cold, you’ll need a more high-test sunscreen, and remember to reapply it often.
(Here are the physical sunscreen primers I recommend.)
It doesn’t take much to take care of your skin during the winter. Just remember that your body’s natural oils are your friend and what you do for your skin in the summer is not what your skin will need in the winter.
PS: Be on the lookout for the fifth edition of our magazine Your Beauty, which should hit the stands mid-January. To make sure you get your free copy when it comes out, just fill out the form here and we’ll pop it in the mail to you right away.
All the best,
David B. Reath, MD
This blog was originally written by Dr. Reath in November 2012 and has been updated with our new favorite products for winter skin.