Dull, lacklustre skin is an unfortunate winter trademark. No matter what our age, most of us experience dry, flaky skin at some point when the weather gets chilly. The culprits may be wintry winds, dry indoor air, harsh soaps, low humidity, or even a cold-weather sunburn. Here are a few simple tips for banishing dry skin and making sure you get through the winter flake-free!
Turn down the heat
Although cold, windy winter days contribute to overall dryness, it’s the dry indoor air that causes most of our skin-care woes. As we tend to bump up the thermostat on our heaters to keep us warm and cosy, it causes severe dryness to the skin. So, cool it with the heater and use a humidifier to pump up the indoor moisture level.
Shorten those showers
Long, steamy hot showers may feel very soothing when it’s frigid outside but they’re also good at dehydrating you – yes, taking moisture out instead of putting it in. Try to limit your bathing time to 5 minutes, and make sure the water’s just warm—never hot. That’s because hot water strips your body of its natural, skin-protecting oils much more quickly than warm or cold water.
Ditch the soap
Harsh surfactants found in many antibacterial or deodorant soaps can further dry out and irritate winter skin. Switch to a mild, cream-based cleanser for your face (and body) that will help remove dirt and impurities without depleting skin’s precious moisture.
During cold winter months, cell turnover is sluggish and thus sloughing away dead skin cells is the first step to ensure you’re always showcasing your freshest, smoothest skin. Whether you’re dealing with sensitive, combination or dry skin, it’s always a good idea to exfoliate gently. Avoid traditional granular scrubs (containing salt or synthetic beads) that can irritate or inflame your skin and choose gentle chemical exfoliants with alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) such as glycolic acid and lactic acid that have wonderful anti-aging benefits to help reduce fine lines and even out skin tone. (And yeah, hydrate your skin immediately after exfoliation. Moisturizers are most effective after dead surface cells have been whisked away)
Take time to moisturize
No matter what’s your skin type, you should moisturize everyday, and not just from the shoulders up. And to counteract the dryness, you don’t need fancy creams and lotions from the cosmetics counter. You can keep your skin happy and hydrated with budget-friendly options easily available at dugstores – look for products that contain natural oils such as avocado, rosehip, macadamia nut oil, almond oil or shea butter – these options will prove much more beneficial than water-based formulas. Whichever product you choose, be sure to smooth it on right after a shower when your skin is slightly damp to help lock in the moisture.
Supplement your moisturizer with a serum
Adding a serum to your beauty routine gives your skin an extra layer of insurance against harsh winter temperatures. Like layering a favorite fitted T-shirt under your cardigan, a hydrating serum applied under your moisturizer seals in the comfort – not to mention helps provide dewy-looking skin despite dry air and frigid temperatures. Look for one with a healthy dose of vitamins and antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E to nourish as well as protect your skin.
Don’t put away the sunscreen
Just because you’re shivering doesn’t mean the sun’s rays are on vacation. Even though UV rays are less intense in winter, they can be just as bad for your skin. So if you are headed outdoors, be sure to slap on that sunscreen (at least SPF 15, broad-spectrum) to stave off UV damage. (btw did you know snow is an even better reflector than water, bouncing 80% of the sun’s rays back to us, compared to less than 20% for sand and surf)