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8 Tips to Better Winter Skin Care
July 06, 2009
Keeping your skin in good condition can be a challenge in the winter, with dry heat indoors to bitter cold outside. Explore eight easy ways to keep winter skin worries away.
Your skin not only covers and protects your body, but it's also your largest organ. If you could take it off and lay it flat, your skin would cover about two yards and weigh up to nine pounds. Protect your biggest organ this winter. Here are eight tips to keep your skin smooth and silky this winter.
1. Moisturize more
This may seem like a no-brainer, but your normal moisturizer may not work in the harsh winter weather. Depending on your skin type, you may want to choose a lotion without added chemicals that can irritate your skin. Look for hypoallergenic products. And remember, the best moisturizers are the most "gooey." Put on moisturizer right after you bathe. This will help hold in the moisture from the water. Then apply moisturizer three or four times during the day. Depending on how prone you are to dry skin, you may need an ointment, cream, or lotion.
Look for moisturizers with oils like avocado, mineral, primrose, or almond oil. These oils are less likely to clog your pores. Also look for ingredients known as "humectants," including gylcerin, sorbitol, and alpha-hydroxy acids. These help the moisture stick to your skin.
Winter moisturizer recipe:
- 1 part glycerin - available at drugstores
- 3 parts water
2. Keep using sunscreen
Even though you may be layered up with clothing, the sun can be even more damaging in winter. The sun reflects only about 17% on sand, but 80% on snow. Apply a heavy layer of moisturizing sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher) to your face, hands, and any other skin that may be exposed. This acts as a barrier to protect against the wind, snow, and cold. Sunscreen is especially important in the winter because it's much harder to feel if your face is burned when it's cold outside!
3. Take care of your hands...
The thin skin on your hands gets the brunt of things in the winter. Your hands have fewer oil glands than other areas of your skin. This means your hands have a hard time keeping moisture in winter months. Take care of them this winter by remembering to wear gloves outside, slather on a good cream or ointment before bed, and moisturize whenever you can. This will help avoid the cracking, itching, and sometimes bleeding dry skin that many people experience in winter months.
4. ... and your feet
We often forget our tootsies when we think of winter skin care. Something as simple as petroleum jelly (Vaseline) or glycerin is a great moisturizer to keep your feet in great shape this winter. Because these products are a little greasy, you can slather up your feet and put on a pair of socks before going to bed.
5. Use a humidifier
Using a humidifier is one of the easiest things you can do this winter to keep from getting chapped. If you can, place two or three humidifiers around your home to balance the moisture in your home from the dry indoor heat. The dry heat from your furnace sucks a great deal of moisture out of the air, so you need to put the moisture back in. Humidifiers are great because you can fill up the tank with water before bed, plug it in, and sleep your way to healthy skin!
6. Layer up
Dressing in layers may sound odd for holding in moisture, but it works. Layering helps your body adjust when you go from dry heat indoors to outside and back in. By wearing layers, you can remove clothing as needed to prevent overheating and sweating. Loose-fitting, natural fabrics give you the most circulation between your skin and the weather to prevent the scratch and itch cycle of dry skin.
7. Remove wet clothes, socks, and shoes as soon as possible
Slushy snow can be fun to walk in until the cold, wet feeling in your shoes sets in. The mix of cold and damp can irritate your skin and cause itching, cracking, sores, or even a flare-up of itchy red skin or eczema. Switch into dry clothes whenever possible. Keep a pair of comfy, dry slippers by the door for when you come in from the cold.
8. Avoid super-hot showers and baths
It may be hard to resist with the cold months setting in, but the severe change in temperature from outside to the hot shower can shock your skin, causing you to lose moisture. Remember to take lukewarm baths or showers. Or take an oatmeal bath to soothe dry skin. Take good care of your skin this winter, and it will thank you with fewer wrinkles, flakes, and itching!
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American Academy of Dermatology
National Institute of Health