If I had my way, I'd stay inside all winter long. It's not that I don't appreciate the majesty of a snowfall, or the beauty of an icicle. I just can't stand how the cold weather affects my skin. I'd much rather avoid the out of doors if it means preventing a dry, flaky face and/or horrendously chapped lips.
And yet, none of these things have to happen with the right winter skin care routine. Just a few simple changes can mean surviving 'til spring without a chapped lip or flaky face in sight. Of course this has a lot to do with moisturizing, since cold air has a way of drying your skin. So, if you do nothing else, get thyself some moisturizer ASAP.
"More than anything, making sure your skin stays hydrated during the winter is an important step to ramp up in your skin care routine," says NYC-based dermatologist Dr. Elizabeth Hale, in an email to Bustle. "During the coldest months of the year, we experience transepidermal water loss, which can leave your skin dry and itchy." This is one of many reasons why you have to take extra skin care precautions until the weather warms up again. Add in that moisturizer, and follow a few other essential winter skin care tips, and you'll be better able to enjoy the wondrousness of the season — dry air, blizzards, and all.
1. Change Your Showering Habits
While soaking in a hot shower is most definitely the stuff of dreams — especially when it's cold outside — this is one habit you should probably avoid in the winter months. As Hale tells me, the sudden shock of going from cold air to hot shower isn't good for your skin. So, do your epidermis a favor and stick to a lukewarm showers.
2. Skip Your Soaping Ways
Most soaps are incredibly drying to the skin, Hale tells me. And really, that's the last thing you need when it's 80 below zero outside. If you're feeling itchy or dried out, cut back on your soap usage. Or, at the very least, go for ones that don't lather. You might also consider saving the soap for the dirtier parts of your bod, like your hands, feet, and face. Let the rest rinse with water, and you should notice a big difference.
3. Cool It With The Acne Treatments
If you're a fan of benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid, you may notice how these acne treatments become a bit... harsher in the winter months. As board-certified dermatologist Dr. Shari Hicks-Graham says, "Lots of patients notice that products that were fine in the spring or summer become hard to tolerate as the temperatures drop outside." If you notice more flakiness, she recommends modifying your routine a bit by reducing the frequency of application. Or, simply add in a gentle moisturizer to prevent dryness.
4. Keep Using That SPF
Yes, I know... the sky is gray and you're covered in 800 layers of clothing. But that doesn't mean you should scrimp on the sunscreen. "It’s so important to protect your skin year round," Hale says. "Using an SPF is the number one way to prevent premature aging and keep a youthful and radiant complexion." So smear it on, even if it's January.
5. Put A Humidifier In Your Bedroom
If you wake up with dry nasal passages (what a joy) or even drier skin, it may be time to get a humidifier. "Adding moisture to the air will help replenish moisture to your skin while you sleep," says board-certified dermatologist Tsippora Shainhouse, MD, in an email to Bustle. You can buy a machine, or simply place a heat-safe bowl of water on your furnace. As it evaporates, your apartment will fill with skin-friendly air once again.
6. Give Dry Brushing A Try
Dry brushing is where it's at if the winter gives you flaky skin. "I recommend it to my clients ... especially in the winter when we move less and layer up our skin needs help exfoliating and our bodies need help getting our blood pumping," says holistic wellness coach Leah Lesesne, MA, in an email to Bustle. If you've yet to give it a try, trust me — you simply haven't lived until you watch all your sloughed off skin fall to the ground. (So satisfying.)
7. Start Drinking More Water
Drinking more water means moisturizing your skin from the inside out, Hale tells me. Do this in combination with products that boost hyaluronic acid production, like Isdinceutics Flavo-C Ultraglican, and you should be all set for winter. "The HA provides continuous moisture to the skin by binding up to 1,000 times its weight in water and is a naturally occurring chemical found in the body," she says. Pretty cool, right?
8. Avoid Alcohol-Based Products
Take a gander at the back of your face wash bottle. Does it contain alcohol? What about your lotion? If so, start avoiding these products while the weather is cold. Alcohol-based cleansers and toners tend to be too harsh, and drying, for use during the winter skin, dermatologist Dr. Ashton Kaidi tells me. So stick them until your sink 'til spring.
9. Stick To Your Nighttime Routine
Even though it gets dark at 2 p.m., it's still important to stick with your nighttime skin care routine. And this means not falling asleep with all your makeup on. "Make sure that you wash off your day," Shainhouse says. "Remove makeup, dirt, and air pollution from the outside. It will reduce inflammation in the skin, free radical damage, and prevent skin aging." All good things, right?
10. Be All About That Moisturizer
Again with the moisturizer, I know. But here's another gentle reminder to use more moisturizer. As licensed esthetician and OZ Naturals co-founder and president, Angela Irish, says, "I highly recommend including a heavier moisturizer during this time of year, as the colder weather depletes the skin of its natural oils." She also recommends slapping on a hydrating mask twice a week, so here's your excuse for a spa night or two.
11. Grab Yourself A Soothing Face Mist
Face mists aren't just something you fancily spritz on while poolside. Apparently they can be super useful in the winter months, too. In fact, as cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Sonam Yadav tells me, they may be even more useful in the winter as a way to replace lost moisture. She recommends picking one up, or even making your own with coconut water and green tea in a spray bottle. Genius.
So, there you have it. Your essential winter skin care guide. Use it — and use it well — and you should get through the winter with glowing, moisturized skin.
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