Low humidity combined with the dry heat in most homes during the winter can quickly lead to dry cracking skin. With a little attention, moisturizing and protecting your skin from the harsh winter elements you can keep your skin looking good all winter long.
Dehydration may also be a less obvious contributor to dry skin. Cold temperatures don’t offer us the same incentives to drink enough water during the day as the sizzling summer heat requires.
Replace lost moisture first from the inside out. Drink at least eight glasses of water a day. Yes, hot tea and hot chocolate does count. Be careful not to overdo the caffeine drinks however as caffeine can contribute to dehydration.
Make moisturizing part of your daily skin care regime. In cold winter months your skin needs the extra protection and added moisture an oil-based moisturizer has to offer. Oil based products are more effective in locking in moisture and forms a barrier against the dry effects of winter wind. Ointments containing eighty percent oil products offer the best protection.
Remember when using ointments, a little goes a long way!
Ointments should not be used on parts of the body that may get hot and sweaty. If you would rather not use a heavy oil-based ointment during the day, try one as an option for moisturizing after an evening shower and before bedtime.
Take extra precautions to protect your skin when outdoors this winter. Always use a moisturizer containing an SPF 30 sunscreen on your face and any other areas exposed to the sun. Dangerous UV rays are reflected up to eighty percent by snow. Cold winter winds can also quickly dry the delicate skin on your face if not adequately moisturized.
Use gloves to protect your hands from cold, winds and sun. Make it a habit to moisturize your hands before going outdoors. The use of a cotton glove liner inside a heavier woolen glove can protect your gloves from moisturizing ointments and offer better protection against the elements. Carry a small tube of moisturizer with you and get into the habit of reapplying moisturizer to your hands when you remove your gloves or wash and dry hands throughout the day.
Dry skin on your hands is more likely to wrinkle and show signs of aging. Frequent applications of a good hand cream can help reduce the appearance of the fine lines and cracking which is often a problem in the winter.
Moisturizing lotions do not provide moisture. Rather than provide moisture or hydration, moisturizing lotions, ointments and creams help lock in the skin’s own moisture.
Lotions and creams are often fifty percent or more water and therefore do not help lock in moisture as effectively as ointments which are only twenty percent water and eighty percent oils.
In the humid conditions of summer, your skin is able to soak up some moisture from the air so a lighter lotion may be all that is necessary but for most people a heavier ointment or oil based moisturizer is needed during the winter months.
As good as a long hot shower may feel after coming in from a long day out in the cold, it is not the best temperature for your skin. Hot water quickly dries out the skin and for anyone suffering from eczema or other skin conditions it can lead to flare-ups.
While most individuals would object to cold or even the recommended short lukewarm showers advised by many dermatologists if your bath or shower leaves your skin red, it is probably too hot and you should consider cooling it down just a bit.
Soap or even mild cleaners should be used sparingly as any of these products can contribute to dry skin. When washing the best approach is to lather up using only your hands. Excessive rubbing or scrubbing can irritate dry skin and worsen any problems.
Also avoid rubbing or scrubbing to dry off. Instead gently pat your skin but leave it slightly damp and apply moisturizer immediately after showering to lock in the moisture your skin has had a chance to soak up.
Your skin will be healthier and you will look younger by locking in much needed moisture this winter. If you have any skin conditions or questions concerning which products are best for you ask your doctor for suggestions or recommendations.
Bathing and Moisturizing Guidelines, (n.d.), Retrieved from EczemaNet
Winter Skin Care Guidelines, (n.d.), Retrieved from EczemaNet