Winter can wreak havoc on our skin. From the dry, cold, blustery wind, to the hot, desiccating indoor heat, our skin takes a beating when the thermostat drops. The result is chapped noses and lips, itchy legs, and exacerbations of skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. (See review of Natural Eczema Relief.)
The solution? Five simple steps to help make sure your skin is hydrated and smooth, no matter what the forecasters foretell.
Harsh, drying soaps can strip the skin of essential oils and water. Antibacterial, heavily deodorized, and soaps made for acne-prone skin are some common villains. Instead, look for mild, unscented soaps that won’t thrash your epidermis. A good, mild facial soap is Cetaphil; for the body look for Aveeno products or other natural, unscented soaps.
An easy and obvious way to help prevent chapped skin is to moisturize. However, there’s no need to spend a lot of money doing so; petroleum jelly (Vaseline), mineral oil, and vegetable oils are an inexpensive way to seal in moisture after a shower. If you don’t like the greasy feel that these oils sometimes have, lotions or ointments are a great alternative. Carry around a small bottle in your purse to moisturize hands. For the face, look for non-comedogenic products with SPF. These will protect from the drying winter sun and provide moisture without clogging pores.
For me, this might be the hardest winter skin tip to adhere to. On a cold morning, there’s nothing I like better than a steaming hot shower. However, hot water removes the skin’s oils faster than warm and cold water, so to keep skin healthy, it’s better to take cooler and shorter baths and showers.
If you’re in a cold climate that requires the heater or furnace be constantly cranking, try using a humidifier to add necessary moisture to the air. Alternatively, set out bowls of water near a heat source; the water will naturally circulate with the air. Because heat can dry out skin, try turning down the thermostat at night, and adding another blanket to the bed instead.
When lips are dried out, it’s tempting to try to lick them back to lusciousness. However, licking lips makes them dry out and results in chapped, cracked kissers. Instead, apply lip balm that contains an SPF, because sun can make the chapping worse. In addition to wearing gloves to protect your hands, try wearing a scarf over your face, which will protect lips on windy days.
With cool showers and constant moisturizing, our skin can be as supple as it would in Hawaii—even if the only tropical influence is the flavor of our lip balm.
Updated November 10, 2008