Change in Seasons…Changes in Your Skin!

For many people, the cold clear days of winter bring more than just a rosy glow to the cheeks. They also bring uncomfortable dryness to the skin of the face, hands, and feet. For some people, the problem is worse than just a general tight, dry feeling: They get skin so dry it results in flaking, cracking, even eczema (in which the skin becomes inflamed).

“As soon as you turn the heat on indoors, the skin starts to dry out,” Bonnie LaPlante, an esthetician with the Canyon Ranch resort in Lenox, Mass., tells WebMD. “It doesn’t matter if you heat your home using oil, wood, or electricity. The skin gets dry.”

Sound familiar? Read on to get WebMD’s top 10 tips for boosting your winter skin care regimen, so that your skin stays moist and healthy through the winter months.

1. Seek a Specialist

If you go to your local drugstore, you’ll be hard put to find a salesperson who can give you good advice. That’s why going to an esthetician or dermatologist even once is a good investment. Such a specialist can analyze your skin type, troubleshoot your current skin care regimen, and give you advice on the skin care products you should be using.

But that doesn’t mean you’ll be stuck buying high-end products. “Inexpensive products work just as well as high-end ones,” says David Voron, MD, a dermatologist in Arcadia, Calif. “In fact, the extra price you pay for the expensive stuff is often just for packaging and marketing. What’s most important is how your skin responds to the product — and how you like its feel, not how much money you paid for it.”

2. Moisturize More

You may have found a moisturizer that works just fine in spring and summer.  But as weather conditions change, so, too, should your skin care routine.  Find an “ointment” moisturizer that’s oil-based, rather than water-based, as the oil will create a protective layer on the skin that retains more moisture than a cream or lotion. (Hint: Many lotions labeled as “night creams” are oil-based.)

But choose your oils with care because not all oils are appropriate for the face. Instead, look for “nonclogging” oils, like avocado oil, mineral oil, primrose oil, or almond oil. Shea oil — or butter — is controversial, because it can clog facial pores. And vegetable shortening, LaPlante says, is a really bad idea. “It would just sit on the skin,” she says. “And it would be really greasy.”

You can also look for lotions containing “humectants,” a class of substances (including glycerine, sorbitol, and alpha-hydroxy acids) that attract moisture to your skin.

3. Slather on the Sunscreen

No, sunscreen isn’t just for summertime. Winter sun — combined with snow glare — can still damage your skin. Try applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen to your face and your hands (if they’re exposed) about 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply frequently if you stay outside a long time

4. Give Your Hands a Hand

The skin on your hands is thinner than on most parts of the body and has fewer oil glands. That means it’s harder to keep your hands moist, especially in cold, dry weather. This can lead to itchiness and cracking. Wear gloves when you go outside; if you need to wear wool to keep your hands warm, slip on a thin cotton glove first, to avoid any irritation the wool might cause.

5. Avoid Wet Gloves and Socks

Wet socks and gloves can irritate your skin and cause itching, cracking, sores, or even a flare-up of eczema.

6. Hook Up the Humidifier

Central heating systems (as well as space heaters) blast hot dry air throughout our homes and offices. Humidifiers get more moisture in the air, which helps prevent your skin from drying out. Place several small humidifiers throughout your home; they help disperse the moisture more evenly.

7. Hydrate for Your Health, Not for Your Skin

If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times: Drinking water helps your skin stay young looking. In fact, it’s a myth. Water is good for your overall health and “the skin of someone who is severely dehydrated will benefit from fluids. But the average person’s skin does not reflect the amount of water being drunk,” Kenneth Bielinski, MD, a dermatologist in Oak Lawn, Ill., tells WebMD “It’s a very common misconception.”

LaPlante agrees. “I see clients at the spa who drink their 10 to 12 glasses of water a day and still have superdry skin. It just doesn’t do that much.”

8. Grease Up Your Feet

Yes, those minty foot lotions are lovely in the hot summer months, but during the winter, your feet need stronger stuff. Try finding lotions that contain petroleum jelly or glycerine instead. And use exfoliants to get the dead skin off periodically; that helps any moisturizers you use to sink in faster and deeper.

9. Pace the Peels

If your facial skin is uncomfortably dry, avoid using harsh peels, masks, and alcohol-based toners or astringents, all of which can strip vital oil from your skin. Instead, find a cleansing milk or mild foaming cleanser, a toner with no alcohol, and masks that are “deeply hydrating,” rather than clay-based, which tends to draw moisture out of the face. And use them a little less often.

10. Ban Superhot Baths

Sure, soaking in a burning-hot bath feels great after frolicking out in the cold. But the intense heat of a hot shower or bath actually breaks down the lipid barriers in the skin, which can lead to a loss of moisture. “You’re better off with just warm water,” LaPlante advises, “and staying in the water a shorter amount of time.”

A lukewarm bath with oatmeal or baking soda, can help relieve skin that is so dry it has become itchy, Bielinski notes. So, too, can periodically reapplying your moisturizer. If those techniques don’t work, go see a dermatologist. “You may need a prescription lotion to combat the dry skin,” Bielinski says. “Or you may have a condition that isn’t simply dry skin and that requires different treatment.”

References:  Web MD by Susan Davis -Freelance journalist Susan Davis specializes in writing about health, fitness, and family issues. Her work has appeared in Sports Illustrated, Men’s Fitness, and Parenting. She is the author of 365 Activities You and Your Baby Will Love and the co-author of Stories Rabbits Tell: A Natural and Cultural History of a Misunderstood Creature. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and two children.

What's the difference between a prune & a plum?

Water!  Would you rather look like a prune or a plum?  I would much rather have my skin look nice and plump like a plum, which can be hard to achieve during the dry winter months.  According to a study conducted in Japan even when skin is exposed to dry climates for a short period, it will lose moisture content.   Lack of moisture does contribute to wrinkling of the skin, so I will list a few helpful hints that can make you look years younger by adding hydration to your daily regime.

1.  Use a nourishing cream with collagen-boosting nutrients  to hold moisture and plump up fine lines and wrinkles.

2.  One to one rule-  for every glass of coffee or alcohol that you consume be sure to follow it with a glass of water to prevent dehydration from taking place within your body.

3. The skin around the eyes is 5-10 times thinner than the rest of the face  and there is almost no oil production in this area.  It is important to use an eye cream twice a day (which I have been doing since the age of 16).  Nontoxic, nonocclusive  is important as you want to allow the skin to breath- proper respiration function is important to keep the blood circulating- avoiding dark circles from forming.

4.  Omega 3 fish oils are an easy and super powerful way to avoid dehydration, and they provide our bodies with so many anti-aging benefits.

5.  Look for these hydrating ingredients in your serums and moisturizers:  aloe vera barbadensis, hyaluronic acid, squalane, jojoba.  These are just a few  ingredients that will help your skin retain moisture,  promote healing and provide you with a healthy youthful glow.

References:

Return to Beautiful Skin by Myra Michelle Eby with Karolyn Gazella.