Dr. Murad’s Expert Tips for Solving Winter Skin Problems
Winter’s harsh weather conditions bring a bevy of skin problems. Luckily, we were able to sit down with Dr. Howard Murad, founder of the award-winning Murad skincare line, to get his advice on how to prevent and treat winter’s most common skin issues.
DivineCaroline: Many women use lighter moisturizers during the spring and summer months, and more intensely hydrating ones in the winter. At what point should we make the switch?
Dr. Murad: It really depends on the person. There’s no specific “right” time. As the weather becomes colder, it becomes drier. Plus, turning the heat on reduces the moisture in the air indoors. If you find yourself turning the heater on, that may be a good time for you to make the switch to a more hydrating moisturizer. Of course, the moment you feel like your skin is becoming dryer as the temperatures decrease, you should start using a hydrating moisturizer.
DC: In addition to switching moisturizers, are there any other types of products you recommend switching up to help skin handle harsh weather conditions this time of year?
Dr. Murad: When most people think of skincare, they think of just skin, but it goes deeper. The most important thing you can do is hydrate internally. What you put in your body can be more important than what you put on it. Eating water-rich foods is extremely important. For instance, instead of drinking a glass of water at night, eat a slice of watermelon, which is 97% water. Eating your water stays in your body longer than drinking it. Plus, watermelon—as with most fruits—has more antioxidants and phytonutrients. Also worth mentioning: Look at nighttime—that’s when you dry out the most. Make your environment moister by using a vaporizer with steam. Finally, use products that contain fish oils, antioxidants, and amino acids, which help build collagen and elastins.
DC: Dry scaly skin seems to go hand-in-hand with blistering weather. What handy exfoliating tips can you give?
Dr. Murad: Exfoliation alone is not nearly as beneficial as hydrating in conjunction with exfoliating. So right after you exfoliate, apply moisturizer—preferably one that has hyaluronic acid, avocado oil, and/or shea butter.
DC: What type of moisturizer or what types of ingredients in a moisturizer should we look for if we have acne-prone skin?
Dr. Murad: Many people with acne-prone or oily skin think that they shouldn’t use moisturizer at all, but they’re wrong. It’s important to keep skin properly hydrated all year long. Just look for a light moisturizer that has a retinoid as part of the formula.
DC: Eczema flare-ups seem to increase during the winter. What tips can you give to avoid and treat this skin condition?
Dr. Murad: This is the extreme of what starts to happen; people scratch itchy dry skin and then take hot showers to get some immediate, temporary relief—all which is bad. To treat, use a mild, gentle body cleanser. When you get out of the shower, pat yourself dry, leaving skin somewhat damp. Then, apply some great dry skin moisturizer so that it traps that water on your skin. Sesame oil also works great for trapping water against the skin.
DC: Do you have a MacGyver-like solution for addressing cracked, chapped skin on the fly?
Dr. Murad: You have to try my Soothing Skin Lip and Cuticle Care. It’s amazing.
DC: When it’s cold and dry, wrinkles and crows’ feet tend to become more pronounced. Besides a daily moisturizer, what type of products would you recommend using to minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles?
Dr. Murad: I recommend using my Sleep Reform Serum, which has melatonin, lots of antioxidants, and aminobutyric acid, something the body makes naturally to relax the muscle.
DC: What are some mistakes you’ve seen women (or men) make as they try to keep skin hydrated during winter months?
Dr. Murad: Drinking a lot of water before going to bed is bad—you end up having to wake up to go to the bathroom. Rather, eat your water—in the form of a piece of fruit—before going to bed. That way, you get hydrated, and you get the added anti-inflammatory benefits and antioxidants you don’t get with water alone. Another mistake people make is that they take hot showers in the wintertime to warm up in the morning. Unfortunately, hot water can dry out your skin. Instead take a lukewarm shower, pat yourself dry, and apply moisturizer to damp skin to keep it hydrated.
DC: In general, what do you think we should be doing to keep skin hydrated and supple year-round?
Dr. Murad: Here’s a priceless tip: If you smile and have a good, positive attitude, it makes all the difference in your skin. If you’re upset or angry, neuropeptides are released, which can over time accelerate the aging process. So minimize your stress level; think of what went right instead of wrong; and have realistic expectations. Ultimately, be thrilled and comfortable with who you are—that’s the best thing you can do for your skin.