The winter months can be especially damaging to the skin. The wind blows harder and colder, the temperature drops, and moisture becomes depleted in the skin causing skin dehydration, scaling, and flaking cracked areas. Areas such as the lips, elbows, knees, heels, and hands become particularly parched during this season. UVA rays in winter are as intense and cause as much damage as UVA rays in the summer months. Here are some tips on how to give your skin ultimate protection during the winter months.
10 Tips for Hands, Feet, Body, Face and Lips
Keep Water Lukewarm, Not Hot
Hot water robs skin of moisture, so it’s best to shower in lukewarm water. If you can’t bear this rule — I can’t — try to keep your warm showers short and try showering only once per day. This also means skipping the hot tubs in winter (another rule I simply cannot bear). The hot, hot temperature, combined with drying chemicals, is torture on skin.
Moisturize After Showers or Handwashing
Moisturizer is the key to soft, supple skin in winter. Apply product when skin is slightly damp. For best effect, pat skin dry instead of rubbing with your towel before application.
Exfoliate on a Weekly or Semi-weekly Basis
Moisturizer is much more effective on properly exfoliated skin. Use a scrub in the shower and exfoliate facial skin with a mild scrub made for the face.
It’s best to scrub skin when it’s dry. Apply scrub to dry skin before you turn on the water (mix with lotion if it’s not moist enough). Massage the scrub in for a good five minutes for best results.
Invest in a Humidifier
Furnaces rob air of moisture, leaving very little humidity in the air. I once read that your skin needs more than 30 percent humidity to stay properly moisturized. A room heated by a furnace can have as little as 10 percent moisture. In the winter, consider sleeping with a humidifier in your bedroom. Keep doors closed so the moist air doesn’t escape the room.
Skip the Drying Soaps
Stick with a creamy moisturizing cleanser that contains glycerin or petrolatum, such as Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Body Wash, or Purpose Gentle Cleansing Wash (my current drugstore pick).
Baby Your Hands & Feet
Hands and feet can suffer terribly in winter. Put on moisturizer and gloves BEFORE you head outdoors, and consider lathering up your feet in thick moisturizer and sleeping in cotton socks at night.
Extra tip: Cover feet in a thick moisturizer, wrap feet in Saran Wrap, then pull on a pair of socks for a couple hours. Try to sit or lie down while the moisturizer soaks in or risk sliding into a full split and pulling your groin muscles. The same treatment can be done on hands, except try plastic bags and keep hands in a pair of socks. A half-hour should do you.
Don’t Forget Your Lips
Licking your lips will not moisturize them and instead will help dry them out. Lips retain less moisture than other parts of the body, so they tend to dry out more quickly. A simple lip balm helps, as does my all-time favorite lip trick learned in high school from “Seventeen” magazine: moisturize your lips with Vaseline. Take a toothbrush and “brush” your lips in a circular motion. This will remove dead flakes and leave your lips soft and supple.
Your Face Needs Extra Care in Winter
Cold, winter wind can wreak havoc on skin. To keep your face supple in winter, apply moisturizer to your face before going out into the cold and cover your face with a scarf in harsh wind.
If you have super, duper sensitive skin, consider avoiding rinsing your face with tap water, which can contain harsh minerals that are especially drying to the skin (Dr. Dennis Gross once told me New York water contains a lot of harsh minerals, while Seattle water, for example, does not. Go figure).
Instead, do like the French and cleanse skin in winter with a cleaner that does not require rinsing, like Pond’s Cold Cream. You can also rinse with special water that contains selenium and chamomile.
Consider Fish Oil Pills
New studies show omega-3 fish oil pills may soothe super dry skin. Patients who took fish oils pills in a study reported in Allure magazine, saw significant results within a few weeks. “You can see, within six weeks, the skin, hair and nails improve markedly,” according to skin expert Dr. Andrew Weil in Allure.
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