Protect Your Skin From Cold, Dry Weather
In Summer, you probably know you need to use sunscreen. But did you know there are steps you should take to protect your skin in the winter as well?
Cold and dry weather can turn skin coarse, irritated, and lead to premature aging.
This situation is made worse by going out in the cold and the coming back to an overheated house indoors, creating dehydrating conditions that can dry out even the most resilient skin.
“As the temperature falls, the air loses its humidity, resulting in skin problems like itching, cracking, and discomfort,” Dr. Janet Prystowski said in an interview Tuesday
These problems become even worse as you grow older, she said.
The reason for this problem, says Dr. Prystowski, is a substance known as “sebum.”
Our body’s sebaceous glands, located near our hair follicles, secrete sebum, a light, oily substance that keeps our skin and hair moisturized.
As we age, our body’s production of sebum diminishes, says Prystowski, a board-certified dermatologist and an assistant clinical professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in Manhattan.
In the Summer, humidity is plentiful, which makes up for this gradual loss of sebum.
But in the Winter, the air is dry, so your skin becomes so, as well.
“In the Winter, your #1 skin care goal should be to preserve all of the moisture you have in your skin,” Dr. Prystowski says.
Here are the tips to Winter-proof your skin, as follows:
- Use a humidifier indoors, and set it to 40-50% humidity.
- Take warm showers and baths, not hot. Although hot water may feel good, it really strips away oil from your skin, so if you must use it, wash and dry off as quickly as possible.
- Use mild soap. Dr. Prystowski’s top recommendation is Dove Dry Beauty Bar, which contains Moroccan argan oil. She also likes Cetaphil and Basis brands.
- Use body oil after you shower or bathe, to lock in moisture.
- Do not forget the sunscreen. If you are outdoors during the daytime, or doing winter activities, you need to use sunscreen. If you live on the east coast, an SPF of 15-30 in your makeup foundation or moisturizer will do, but if you’re heading to a higher elevation pack the SPF 50. “Remember, the Sun is reflected in the snow, so protection is important,” she notes.
- To moisten dry lips, use a lip balm, but sparingly, to prevent it from becoming habit forming. Choose a balm made from sunflower seed oil or a Vaseline-type. Never lick your lips to moisten them. “Saliva contains enzymes that damage the skin, and this causes chafing,” Dr. Prystowski says.
- Moisturize, liberally and frequently. “In the summer, a light moisturizing lotion out of a pump bottle is fine, but in winter, you need to use a heavier, moisturizing cream, or an ointment,” she says. She recommends Lubridrem or Cetaphil, and for people whose skin is very dry, an ointment such as Vaseline or Aquaphor. “Most people don’t like ointments because they can be messy, but you only need a tiny drop, and you can wipe away any excess,” she adds.
Take good care, moisturize