Women's Health

by Laurie Wertich

The temperatures have plummeted, the wind is howling, the snow is flying—winter is officially here. During winter, we may rejoice in the thrill of snow, sledding, skiing, and hot cocoa by a crackling fire. There is no doubt that the season is quiet and magical, but one downside is that it can also take its toll on our skin.

How Winter Affects Our Skin

Cold temperatures result in poor circulation and widened capillaries and, as a result, our skin can suffer. You may find that your skin feels dry, itchy, or irritated. In fact, during winter our typical skin type might shift—oily skin becomes normal, normal skin becomes dry, and dry skin becomes sensitive and irritated.

As we move between cold outdoor temperatures and warm, dry indoor temperatures, our skin becomes “confused” and loses its ability to regulate itself and adjust to the ever-changing conditions.

Winterize Your Skin-Care Plan

In order to maintain healthy skin, it’s important to adopt a winter skin-care routine. Minor adjustments will help you protect your skin and look and feel great.

Adjust your cleansing routine. The skin care routine you use in the summer won’t serve you in the winter. Shift to a lighter cleanser. Extreme weather can weaken the skin’s protective barrier, so you want to avoid intensive cleansing that will further strip your skin of natural protection. Use gentle cleansing milks or mild, foaming cleansers. Avoid alcohol-based cleansers, which will strip away your skin’s natural oils, resulting in dry, irritated skin.

Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. During winter, we need heavier moisturizers to repair the damage done by extremely dry weather and protect our skin from further dryness.

Avoid long, hot showers and baths. Nothing sounds more appealing than a heavenly hot shower or bath on a cold winter day—but it can wreak havoc on your skin. The hot water will actually rob your skin of its natural oils and result in more dryness. Choose warm water instead of hot water. If you must bathe, consider adding a few drops of essential oils to your bath water.

Wear sunscreen. Winter is no time to forget the sunscreen. In fact, sun reflecting off of snow can be even more damaging than sun reflecting off of the beach in summer. Apply a sunscreen with at least 15 SPF every day. Make it a habit. Your skin will thank you.

Add humidity. As soon as we turn on our heat in the winter, our indoor environment dries out. Consider using a humidifier to put some moisture back into the air.

Pay attention to hands and lips. Our hands and lips are especially sensitive to the cold, dry elements. Moisturize your hands every time you wash them. Wear gloves outside to prevent dry, cracked hands. Use a thick lip balm to keep your lips hydrated.

Stay active. Staying active will help stimulate blood circulation, which is good for your skin.