Winter Skin Care

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Winter Skin Care

by Jean Casello, MD

Winter is upon us. Cold weather, dry air, warm baths. New England weather can wreak havoc with our skin. Just like it is important to prepare for winter weather with  shovels, snow melt and snow tires, it is important to prepare our skin for the months ahead.

Most people think  that doing the same skin routine for all seasons is enough. You have your favorite products. You like them.  Why change??  Well just as you wouldn't wear a favorite  winter coat in the summer, you need to change up your summer skin care regimen for the winter.  Why? It just  doesn't work .

In the winter the air is drier and colder. You might notice that your skin is dry, scaly and stings when outside.  For example, if you are using an artificially fragranced cleanser, acne fighting products this time of year, these products can strip the skin of its natural oils and compromise the skin's barrier. This is the time to switch to a more gentle, creamy fragrance free cleanser. Ditch the antibacterial or deodorant soap and harsh laundry detergents as well. Change that shaving cream to a creamy hydrating formula and put the gel formulation away Get rid of hand sanitizers with alcohol. Cleansers with green tea and moisturizers  are a good option for this time of year.

In the winter those long steamy hot showers/bath feel relaxing and soothing but also contribute to dehydration the skin. Hot water dehydrates the skin faster that warm or cold water. So limit your showers to only once a day and no more that 10minutes at a time with tepid water and no bubble bath or shower gel.

Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. This time of year you can't over moisturize .Moisturize every place you have skin!  Even if you have oily skin-moisturize! This keeps the skin from dehydrating.  Make sure to use a moisturizer that is appropriate for your skin type.  Most people will need a heavier or creamier moisturizer because there is less humidity in the air..Moisturize right after that bath/shower when the skin is damp, it traps the moisture.  Don't forget the lips. Lips have no glands so they dry out faster than other areas. Blasting hot air from your heating system, sitting by the fire? Your skin is dehydrating.  Humidifiers throughout the house add moisture to the air.

Some people think you should not exfoliate during the winter months. Sure, the stronger scrubs and acids we use during the warmer months are usually too harsh this time of year.  Switch to a more gentle form of exfoliation and exfoliate less often but exfoliate. Exfoliation helps those hydrating products penetrate better and helps to slough off dead dry and flaking  winter skin.

Drinking more water does not translate into better hydrated skin.  You should stay well hydrated for other health reasons but over hydrating does not improve the hydration of your skin.

Sunscreen, sunscreen and more sunscreen. Sunscreen should be used all year round. Winter sun and solar glare can still cause damage to your skin.  Apply sunscreen 30 minutes prior to going outside to any exposed area. Skiers remember you are closer to the sun, apply often.

Finally remember your winter coats and to tweak your skin care routine with the changing season. After all, it is new England.

Article by
Northborough Physician