Banish Dry Winter Skin
By Shana Aborn
When that chill settles into the air, you may feel it settles into your skin as well. Cold-weather months can bring on a host of winter skin problems: itchiness, chapped hands, roughened feet and facial tightness, to name a few.
Blame that dry winter skin on the air, says Dr. Sandy Skotnicki, medical director of the Bay Dermatology Centre in Toronto. "Cold winter air has less humidity, which dries out the skin," she says. The cold air also makes your veins constrict — another factor adding to the dryness.
To keep skin healthy in the winter, Skotnicki recommends replacing the moisture Mother Nature steals from us. Try these tips to banish dry winter skin and keep your bod beautiful and healthy even in the most frigid temperatures.
1. Keep it cool.
Hot showers may feel luxurious, but they rob your skin of moisture-retaining lipids. "Make sure showers aren’t too hot and don’t use body washes or gels," Skotnicki says. "Also keep showers short—10 to 15 minutes. All these factors contribute to defatting the outer layer of skin, which results in dry skin." Finally, apply moisturizer immediately after you get out of the tub (within three minutes), while your skin is still a little damp.
2. Get rich quick.
When searching for a rich, winter moisturizer, look for one that has humectants, Skotnicki suggests. "Humectants are ingredients that help draw and bind water to skin," she says. "For extremely dry skin, humectants should be present, including urea, lactic acid and glycolic acid. Also, ceramides should be present to replace the lipid layer." Moisturize morning and night for maximum effect. Same goes for your face: Choose a heavier moisturizer during the day and a night cream for bedtime.
3. Keep the air moist.
To counteract the dry air, Skotnicki recommends putting a humidifier in your bedroom.
4. Be sun-smart.
Even when it’s not beach weather, your skin still needs protection from the sun’s rays. For exposed areas like the face and hands, apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. Depending on your needs, you can either choose a face cream with sunscreen included or apply a heavier moisturizer over a layer of sunblock.
5. Pamper your feet.
"Feet can dry out more easily in the winter, especially the heels," says Skotnicki. Give your feet a winter treat at night by first soaking them in Epsom salt, then using a foot scrub. Rub in a thick moisturizer and put on socks just before going to bed, suggests Skotnicki. You’ll wake up with noticeably softer feet.
6. Protect your hands.
To prevent dryness and chapping, your hands need to be kept moisturized. Stash a bottle of hand moisturizer in your purse or desk at work so it’s always handy. The other secret to soft hands: Cover them up as much as possible. "I like Nyplex gloves more than latex gloves because they are hypoallergenic," says Skotnicki.