The change of seasons can be very stressful on your skin, especially when going from warmer summer months to cold, windy drier winters. This transition most commonly makes your skin look dull and older than its years, but it can also spur flare-ups of skin conditions such as acne and eczema. One of the biggest mistakes people make with the change of seasons is they neglect adjust their skin care routine, if they are even sticking to one in the first place. The good news is that there are simple changes you can make to prevent the stress of cold weather from affecting your skin.
Decreased temperatures mean a drop in humidity levels, taking moisture not only out of the air, but also out of your skin. While staples like a healthy diet and drinking plenty of water are crucial for healthy skin, making a few skincare changes and adopting a handful of new habits can help manage the discomfort of Dry Skin Season and keep your skin feeling silky smooth year round. Here’s my quick hit of easy skin care tips for cold weather:
1. Eat the harvest.
The best high-antioxidant fruits and vegetables in their peak season right now. My favorites are cranberries, blueberries, pumpkin, pomegranate and squash. These foods will help feed your skin from the inside out and keep it looking its youngest most beautiful best.
If stubborn dry skin is causing extreme discomfort, seek out professional advice. A dermatologist can analyze your skin type and create a customized skin care routine. In certain cases, extremely dry skin can be an indicator of a larger medical issue, such as diabetes or an underactive thyroid. Work with a health care professional to determine a more specified treatment plan.
2. Don’t crank up the heat.
Turning up the heat indoors seems like a natural response to chilly winter weather, but raising the thermostat indoors dries the air, and skin out even more. The result is dry, flaky skin that is itchy and uncomfortable.
3. Start using your humidifier.
To remedy a dry home, bring in a humidifier and set humidity level between 45% and 55% to infuse the air with enough moisture for you skin to reap the benefits.
4. Take quick warm (not hot!) showers.
A long hot shower may feel heavenly on cold mornings, but it strips out the water and natural oils in your skin, thus drying it out. Limit showers to 15-minutes or less, using warm water, rather than hot hot water.
5. Don’t use harsh soap.
Deodorant and antibacterial soaps are especially harsh on your skin, compromising your skin’s natural moisture barrier. Instead, opt for mild, fragrance-free cleansers.
6. Use a multitasking moisturizer.
After showering, blot excess water off your body, instead of roughly rubbing your skin with a towel. Next, apply a body moisturizer while your skin is still damp. Use a formula that gently sloughs off dry, dead skin cells, while also locking in moisture. Look for a cream over a lotion in the winter and also check for ceramides on the ingredient list, which are naturally found in the skin’s outer layer, help to retain moisture and can help to replenish the skin’s moisture barrier I recommend: AmLactin Cerapeutic Restoring Body Lotion, $22.
7. Give your hands extra TLC.
Moisturize hands every time after washing. Trade in traditional hand sanitizer for a combination sanitizer that contains moisturizer or lotion.
8. Soften your soles.
Your regular body lotion may not be enough for your feet. Look for a thicker cream to penetrate rough, dry skin on feet.
9. Ease up on facial exfoliating.
Reduce the frequency of facial peels and masks to avoid irritating your skin.
10. Always go fragrance-free dye-free options.
Avoid irritants often found in everyday products by selecting fragrance-free or dye-free options. Un-scented means there’s a masking scent and this is just another form of fragrance designed not to have a smell.
11. Wear soft clothing.
Avoid putting on abrasive or irritating fabrics like wool or polyester directly against your skin, especially the neck. Stick to soft fabrics, such as cotton, especially if they are in direct contact with your skin.
Originally published December 9, 2015
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