Winter can leave your skin red, itchy, and irritated; severe cases of “winter skin” can cause cracking and bleeding. Winter winds can also make your skin look and feel dry, chapped, and downright uncomfortable.
Humidity levels tend to drop during the winter months, and this cold and dry air outside can make the moisture in your skin evaporate quickly; indoor heat is no better. Fortunately, you can take steps to combat the loss of moisture and even make your skin healthier – and more comfortable – this winter. Here are the top ten ways you can give yourself healthy skin during winter weather.
9 Great Ways to Have Healthy Skin this Winter
1. Run a humidifier
Humidifiers add moisture to the air, which slows down the rate at which moisture evaporates from your skin. For best results, run humidifiers in the rooms in which you spend the most time, such as your bedroom or office.
2. Turn down the heat
Standard furnaces work by heating air drawn in from the outside. Since they use dry outdoor air, standard furnaces can make the air in your house even drier. For healthier skin this winter, try turning down the thermostat to a comfortable 68°F to 72°F, or lower.
3. Take shorter, cooler showers
While taking a long, steamy shower may seem tempting, hot water can irritate your skin. As a rule of thumb, the water is too hot if your skin is red after a bath or shower. The American Academy of Dermatology suggests limiting your bath or shower to 5 to 10 minutes.
4. Use ointment or cream instead of lotion
Ointments and creams tend to be more effective and less irritating than lotions. For maximum effectiveness, look for the following ingredients in ointments and creams:
- Dimethicone – a moisturizer
- Glycerin – prevents dry, rough, or scaly skin and minor skin irritations
- Hyaluronic acid – a naturally occurring gooey substance that retains moisture to keep your skin well hydrated
- Jojoba oil – very similar to the natural oils your body already produces
- Lactic acid – improves the way skin keeps itself hydrated
- Lanolin – a waxy substance that works well as an emollient, which is a type of moisturizer that softens skin; derived from sheep, so you may wish to avoid products with lanolin if you are allergic to wool
- Mineral oil – another emollient that helps to moisturize and soften skin; mineral oil can feel greasy, though, so avoid products with mineral oil if the ‘heavy’ feeling bothers you
- Petrolatum – an emollient and an FDA-approved skin protectant
- Shea butter – can help skin feel softer, more hydrated, and plumper, especially during the dry winter
5. Use a small amount of gentle, fragrance-free cleansers
Some cleansers, particularly deodorant soap, are too harsh for winter skin. Avoid products marked “unscented,” as they may contain chemicals that neutralize or mask odors; these chemicals can irritate skin. Instead, look for products labeled “fragrance-free.” Consult with your skincare specialist to learn which products might be best for you.
Apply just enough cleanser to remove oil and dirt, but not enough to work up lather.
6. Moisturize frequently
Handwashing is important at all times of year, but particularly during winter’s cold and flu season. All this constant handwashing is tough on your skin. Apply moisturizer immediately after washing your hands, showering, or cleaning your face.
7. Treat your skin kindly
To avoid skin irritation and itching, wear soft, comfortable clothing. Wash clothes in detergent marked “hypoallergenic.” Wear a warm pair of gloves or mittens to protect your hands from cold, dry air. Don a pair of rubber gloves before washing dishes or performing other tasks that require getting your hands wet.
Blot your skin dry with a towel after bathing or showering, as rubbing with a towel can irritate your skin. Besides, blotting with a towel allows some moisture to remain on your skin; applying lotion right away seals in this moisture.
8. Treat your skin to HydraFacial
HydraFacial uses a patented medical-grade device that cleanses the skin and clears blocked pores while hydrating skin and saturating it with beneficial compounds. The handheld device features a double-helix vortex treatment wand, which has two chambers that perform different tasks. One chamber removes dirt and dead skin cells, while the second chamber infuses hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, growth factors, and other soothing nutrients into the skin. HydraFacial works essentially as a chemical peel, microdermabrasion, and hydrating mask.
The treatment is gentle and virtually pain-free, and provides noticeable improvements to dry, dull skin during the winter.
9. Consult with a skin health specialist
Every person’s skin is different – some people breeze through winter, while others struggle with chapped, dry, and irritated skin. Your skin health specialist can help you develop a skincare routine using products made especially for your skin type.
Taking care of your skin during winter can help you look radiant all year long. For more information about healthy winter skin, contact the Center for Dermatology & Laser Surgery to schedule a consultation with one of our skin health specialists.