The weather outside is frightful alright, with record cold temperatures descending over much of the northern hemisphere (snow in London for Christmas!). Talk of global warming has been pushed to the back burner as people try to figure out the right combination of layers to achieve optimal protection from the arctic onslaught. At times like, this it’s not just your wallet that takes a beating as you have to dole out for ever greater amounts of heating oil, your skin suffers as well. Brutally cold, dry air is the enemy of soft, supple skin and requires that you mount a staunch, multifaceted defense of your derma. If you don’t your skin will wind up resembling an old shoe come April.
Take These Winter Skin Tips to Heart
That rosy glow on your cheeks is cute as heck, but it’s also a sign that your skin is under assault from Old Man Winter. No season is harder on the skin, and that’s true whether you’re 8 or 80. If you suffer from skin conditions like eczema you’re going to have an even harder time than everyone else come winter as the combination of cold and dry generates extra cracking, flaking, and itching. So what to do? Start by taking these cold weather skin care tips to heart.
- Moisturize – Your winter time moisturizer is (or at least it should be) different than your summertime moisturizer. Because of the double threat of cold temps and low humidity you need a moisturizer that’s going to stay put. And that means an oil-based moisturizer. You need to be careful when selecting a winter moisturizer however because some oil-based products will clog the pores on your face leading to other problems. Primrose, avocado, and mineral oils are all essentially non-clogging while something like shea oil is likely to plug things up. As an alternative to oil-based moisturizers, try a glycerin-based product. They won’t block your pores, and they do a great job of retaining moisture.
- Remember the Sunscreen – If you’ve ever been skiing on a sunny winter day, you know how important sunscreen is. Without it, you’re likely to get one of the most brutal sunburns you’ve ever had as a result of sunlight reflecting in your face off of the snow. In fact, there’s a well-known phenomenon called ‘snow blindness’ that befalls skiers and mountain climbers the world over. It occurs when the reflected light burns your face so badly that your eyes swell up and close. If you live in the northern latitudes snow is everywhere. Protect your skin from winter time sunburn by remembering to apply sunscreen before going out on sunny days.
- Remove Wet Clothes ASAP – Wet socks, long underwear, and gloves are going to happen in winter, and they’re the enemy of healthy skin. If your feet have gotten wet while you were out, make sure you remove your wet socks immediately after returning home and let your feet dry out thoroughly before putting on nice dry socks. Same with long underwear and gloves. Cold, wet skin can crack and itch and be a breeding ground for dermatitis.
- Use a Humidifier – Often it’s not the cold outside air that causes skin problems in the winter. It’s the hot, dry air being pumped out by your furnace day after day. Fortunately, you don’t have to just accept that drying up like a prune is the price you pay for being warm. You can fight back with a humidifier. The humidifier restores healthy moisture levels to the indoor environment that enables your skin to transcend the winter with minimal damage.
- Drink Water – In the summer time, we drink water to replace what we sweat out. In the winter dehydration can be just as big a threat although it comes at us from a different direction. All that brutally cold, dry arctic air and all of that dry air generated by the furnace sucks the moisture right out of your skin but does so in such a subtle way you don’t even realize what’s happening. Counteract the effects of winter time dehydration by making sure you don’t stop drinking water when the weather cools down.
- Avoid Superhot Showers – If you have or are prone to dry skin few things will aggravate it quite like a really hot shower or bath. Some folks though just can’t resist the lure of the hot shower after coming in from hours spent trudging through outdoor icebox. They turn up the hot water and stay put for extended periods of time, seemingly convinced they’ll be able to absorb the heat like an alligator. Well, you’re not an alligator. You’re a warm-blooded creature and while just standing under a hot shower might feel good, it’s destroying your outer layer of skin and undoing any attempts you’ve made to keep your skin properly moisturized.
- Be Good to Your Hands – The winter time is the time when you should really be paying extra attention to your hands. Hands have a hard time in winter. Along with the face, they’re the first things to be affected by the brutal cold. On really cold days, the tips of your fingers might actually go numb. In addition, the skin on your hands is some of the thinnest on your entire body, and because hands are designed to work, they’re not decked out with an abundance of oil-secreting glands. All this means that responsibility for making sure your hands are warm and properly moisturized falls to you. Moisturize your hands regularly, always make sure your gloves are warmer than they need to be and if you wear wool gloves wear a cotton or polypropylene liner under them to protect your skin.
Old Man Winter doesn’t care if your skin is adequately moisturized or if you have a humidifier in your bedroom. Those things are up to you. So don’t drop the ball when it comes to winter time skin care. Instead, take these winter skin care tips to heart and emerge to face the spring flowers looking and feeling better than ever.