Tips To Keep Your Skin Healthy In Winter
Cold, dry air can leave your skin itchy, red, and irritated. Combat dry winter skin with these tips for retaining your skin’s natural moisture.
When the winter winds blow, here’s what you can do to keep your skin moist and supple. Winter can wreak havoc on your skin — making it dry, itchy, and irritated. And it can feel like there’s no escape: Cold, blustery conditions outside can leave your skin feeling raw, while indoor heat zaps moisture from the air and from your skin.
Even the things that make winter wonderful, such as sitting by a roaring fire, can dry your skin, as the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) notes. And though taking a hot shower might seem like a good way to warm up, hot water dries out your skin by stripping it of its natural oils.
But there are many simple ways to combat the causes of dry winter skin and help keep your skin feeling moist and supple all season long, including some easy changes to your everyday routine. For example, after taking a not-quite-so-hot shower, “blot skin dry and apply a thick moisturizer within a few minutes after bathing to seal the water into the skin,” says Linda Stein Gold, MD, a dermatologist at Henry Ford Hospital in West Bloomfield, Michigan.
Here are some other tips to keep in mind when it comes to effective winter skincare, so that you can feel your best all winter long.
Top 6 Tips for Healthy Winter Skin
- Lower the Thermostat to Avoid Dryness
When it’s chilly outside, what’s the first thing you want to do? Crank up the heat! But central heat can make the air in your house even drier. Try setting the thermostat at a cool yet comfortable setting — 68°F to 72°F — to maintain healthy skin.
- Limit Shower Time and Temperature
It may be tempting to take a long, steamy shower, but your skin will be much better-served with a 5- to 10-minute lukewarm shower (or bath), as the AAD suggests. You should also avoid using excessively hot water when washing your hands — if the water causes your skin to turn red, it’s too hot. Washing your hands in cooler water appears to be as effective at removing germs as warm water and is less irritating to skin, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And if you’re using a restroom air hand-dryer, use it just until your hands are damp rather than perfectly dry.
- Modify Your Facial Skin-Care Regimen for the Season
During the winter months, choose cream-based cleansers, and apply toners and astringents sparingly, if at all. Many astringents contain alcohol, which can further dry your skin. When your skin is dry and itchy, the AAD recommends you stop using products that contain alcohol and fragrances in order to help skin retain its natural oils. At night, use a richer moisturizer on your face.
And don’t forget your lips. Applying a moisturizing balm (such as petroleum jelly or another ointment) can help heal dry, cracked lips and keep them from getting chapped, according to the AAD. If, however, your lip product causes a stinging or tingling sensation, try switching to a different product.
- Moisturize Frequently, Especially Your Hands
Maintain healthy skin by moisturizing after washing up. “It’s best to use a cream or ointment in the winter. Lotions are better in warmer, humid climates. And don’t forget your hands,” says Dr. Stein Gold. Hand-washing, as the CDC notes, is vital, especially during cold and flu season. But, as Stein Gold points out, “constant washing will cause the hands to take a beating.”
Applying a hand cream after each washing can help, Stein Gold adds. She also recommends wearing waterproof gloves when washing dishes or cleaning around the house.
- Remember to Eat Right and Stay Hydrated
“Sometimes when skin is very dry, it can be helped by foods or supplements that contain omega-3 or omega-6 fatty acids, such as fish oil and flaxseed oil,” says Barbara R. Reed, MD, a dermatologist in private practice at Denver Skin Clinic. “For the most part, however, it is important to help the skin moisturize from the outside.”
- Apply Sunscreen — Even on Gray Winter Days
On bright winter days, snow reflects the sun’s rays — up to 80 percent, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation — increasing your risk of exposure. That means whether you’re out on the slopes, playing in the snow, or just walking through a parking lot on an errand run, it’s just as important to be applying sunscreen in the harsh winter weather as it is in the summer.
And don’t be fooled by darker, dreary days in winter, either. The sun’s harmful UV rays can permeate clouds and still cause damage.
Before you go outside, apply a moisturizing, broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher to all exposed areas of your body.