It seems that nearly nothing about the winter is good for your skin—not the cold, dry weather, not the sugary treats. But, unfavorable skin conditions do not mean you are destined to wear a dull complexion to your holiday parties. We have ten tips to keep your skin looking its best.
If you haven’t switched your summertime cleanser yet, do it now. Many cleansers well suited for increased oiliness that comes with summer contain drying ingredients like glycolic and/or salicylic acid. Winter skincare calls for something gentler, often a soap-free formula. Look for cleansing milks or mild daily cleansers like Hale Cosmeceuticals’ Dermist Cleanser.
Cold air by itself increases evaporation at your skin’s surface during the winter. Rinsing your face with hot water will only make matters worse. To minimize surface-level evaporation, rinse off your cleanser using lukewarm water instead. (BTW: this is true for hand-washing, too.)
One-way moisturizers work, especially thicker oil-based creams, is by creating a barrier between your skin and the air to prevent surface-level evaporation. In order for there to be any hydration left to lock in, you need to moisturize immediately after washing your face.
When choosing a moisturizer, you need to read the ingredients carefully. Some essential oils, particularly citrus-derived ones, are “volatile,” meaning they have a low evaporation point. When they evaporate, guess what they take with them—water from your skin. Also, avoid petroleum-based products. Some people experience increased dryness with petroleum-containing moisturizers, but a bigger problem is that they do not allow the skin to breathe, so they lock in toxins.
For optimal hydration, consider a moisturizer with hyaluronic acid (like our Dermist M3HA), which binds water to keep it from evaporating.
The right skincare products can replenish some hydration and prevent you from losing what is already there…but if you are not eating the right foods or drinking enough water, your skin is already parched. For optimal suppleness, you need to give your skin sufficient hydration through nutrition. That means:
Winter sun may be weak, but UVA rays reach the earth’s surface and your skin with the same intensity all year long. Plus, wind deals another blow to your skin, leaving it red and chapped. Prevent skin irritation and damage from environmental conditions by using sun block (a formula with micro-ionized zinc oxide provides excellent sun and wind protection) and covering up as much of your skin as possible when you go outdoors. So, don your hat, scarf, balaclava, etc.
Most heating systems cycle very dry treated air, but you can infuse your indoor air with more moisture by:
Some parts of your body take the brunt of winter dryness—your hands, elbows and feet. You can deliver and lock in additional moisture while you sleep. Simply slather on your favorite (petroleum- and fragrance-free) lotion and cover your feet with cotton socks and your hands with cotton gloves. The increased heat will boost your skin’s ability to absorb the nourishing and hydrating compounds in the lotion.
To boost your skin’s absorption capacity, you need to remove the “stuff” that blocks your pores—dead skin cells and built-up oil. However, when you exfoliate in the winter, you need to be gentle. Rather than scrub, use an exfoliating mask. Because the sun is less intense, this is also a good time of year for chemical peels. Just make sure that whatever exfoliating method you use you don’t overuse…and, of course, moisturize immediately after.
Because so much about winter is potentially irritating to your skin, you may need to pay extra attention to everything that touches your skin—including the type of fabrics you wear and the detergents you use for laundry and house cleaning. Choose mild soaps, preferably without fragrances and dyes. If you have sensitive skin (common with eczema, psoriasis and rosacea), you may prefer soft cotton knits for scarves and other near-your-face clothing.