The days may be warm, but the crispness in the morning and evening remind us that winter is on the way. Now, before the freezing temperatures set in, is the time to start thinking about winter skin care.
With the proper adjustments to your skin care routine and equipped with the right products, you can keep your healthy glow through the harsh winter months.
One of the biggest antagonists to health skin is dehydration, and during the winter, indoor and outdoor climate conditions mean your skin needs some defense. Cold air and furnace-warmed air are both dry, increasing surface evaporation potential. That means that inside or out, your natural water content is being zapped from your skin.
To defend your skin from dehydration:
Humidify your house. You can install a humidifier into your existing heating system, but there are other home humidity boosters that aren’t quite so cost prohibitive: a single-room humidifier, a pot of boiled water and plants, for instance.
Modify shower temperature and time. Hot water speeds up surface evaporation, so long hot showers dehydrate and exacerbate dry, itchy skin. Limit shower time (no more than 10 minutes) and avoid hot water.
Moisturize while damp. Pat your skin dry(ish) after your shower and moisturize immediately. Moisturizers don’t replenish moisture so much as they lock it in. By leaving some dampness on your skin, you leave moisture to be locked away.
Using the same light-weight moisturizer you’ve been applying all summer may not provide enough protection, though. To effectively defend your skin from the winter elements, you may need a new skin care wardrobe.
Just as it’s time to get your sweaters and hoodies out of their dark corners of the closet, it’s time to bring out the heavier skin care products. Since the outdoor temperatures aren’t inviting you for sweat-inducing activities in the sun, oiliness isn’t as much of an issue. That means:
While we’ve been trained to think “Oily = bad,” an oil-based moisturizer can supplement the natural oils your skin produces to hydrate and lubricate your skin and provide a longer lasting protection from surface evaporation. Just make sure that the product you use is non-comedogenic.
One skin protection that should carry over from the summer, however, is sun protection. Although UVB rays are less intense during the winter months, UVA rays, which penetrate more deeply and are linked to increased risk for skin cancer, are just as strong in December as they are in July. Also, snow has massive reflective potential, so you are often getting UV radiation from above and below.
Skin health any time of year will reflect your internal health. So while outside temperatures may not be calling you for a stroll around the park, don’t let the cold keep you from being active. By maintaining a regular exercise regimen (at least 30 minutes 4 or more days a week), you are more likely to maintain proper fluid balances, which keeps you hydrated from the inside.
Because exercise boosts your immune system, staying active throughout the winter will also help you more successfully ward of common ailments. (And who doesn’t look better when not fighting a cold?)
With these small changes in your environment and skin care regimen, you can emerge next spring looking fresh instead of flaky and irritated.