From freezing temperatures to icy walkways, the winter months can be brutal. One place this chilly season really takes its toll: your skin. The harsh conditions can leave skin feeling dry and irritated, and sometimes simply moisturizing isn’t enough.
Linda Stein, M.D., a dermatologist at Henry Ford Health System, shares some helpful advice for keeping your skin healthy, more hydrated and less irritated. Here are her 5 essential winter skin care tips:
- Shower every day. For general hygiene purposes, it’s important to shower on a regular basis. But many people think water sucks the moisture out of our skin – and to some extent that’s true. But water is essential for keeping our bodies healthy, and that includes keeping skin moisturized. “The water hydrates the skin and keeps it healthier,” Dr. Stein says. “Just be sure to keep the water temperature warm – not hot – or it will strip away the natural oils on the skin that help preserve moisture. It’s also important to moisturize your skin right after showering to help trap moisture in the skin.”
- Use mild cleansers. Using a cleanser is one of the best defenses against dry, cracked skin – but with so many on the market, it can be difficult to determine which is best for you. “When looking for a cleanser, look for those that are free of alcohol and any fragrances,” Dr. Stein says. “When skin is especially dry, look for special ingredients like lactic acid, which really helps with dry, flaky skin.”In addition, using a cream-based moisturizer (versus liquid – which is better for warmer seasons) helps provide your skin with an extra layer of protection.
- Wear sunscreen. Yes, you read that right. Even though it’s winter and temperatures can descend into the negatives, sunscreen is still necessary to protect your skin. The sun reflects off of the snow and ice and back onto your exposed skin, causing dryness and other damage associated with UV rays. Just like during the summer months, apply sunscreen about 30 minutes before you are headed outdoors, and reapply as necessary if you are out for extended periods of time.
- Pay attention to your hands. With illnesses around every corner, it’s important to wash your hands this time of year. Unfortunately, constant washing, while helping keep you from getting sick, is also taking a toll on the moisture in your hands. “Constant hand washing will cause the hands to take a real beating,” Dr. Stein says. “Apply think moisturizing cream after each washing, and wear waterproof gloves when washing dishes or cleaning around the house.”Another trick to keep your hands – and feet – moisturized: Before bed, lather them with lotion, and then put gloves and socks on. The moisturizer will have time to soak into your skin by the time you wake up – and you avoid getting lotion all over your sheets.
- Drink water. When the weather is cold, it can be easy to forget to drink enough water each day. Healthy, moisturized skin starts from the inside – meaning you need to be drinking sufficient water as part of your winter skin care regimen – to keep your skin moisturized inside and out.