When that unpleasant chill hits the air, it's time to get tips on how to keep your skin hydrated in the wintertime. Dryness can be uncomfortable, and it's important to defend yourself against the elements in order to maintain smoothness and suppleness all season long. Keeping skin beautiful and hydrated in colder weather calls for both internal and external care.
Best Practices to Keep Your Skin Hydrated in Winter
Though it may seem like slathering on lotion is the only way to go, that simply isn't true. In fact, using the same lotion you apply during the rest of the year may not be effective during a harsh winter. These tips go beyond the obvious with a few other alternatives that, when combined with traditional methods, make for much softer, more touchable skin.
The old saying "you are what you eat" holds true when it comes to your skin. Moisturizing your body from the inside reaps huge rewards for the way your skin appears on the outside.
- Eat healthy: Adding foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids can improve the condition of your skin remarkably, often in a matter of just a few weeks. That's because omega-3s are responsible for keeping skin cells well lubricated, thereby contributing to a rejuvenated appearance. Add foods like salmon, walnuts, olive oil, soybeans, navy beans, kidney beans, winter squash and ground flaxseeds to your regimen. Incorporating these foods into your diet helps your skin and contributes to your overall well-being.
- Supplement: Skin that lacks these essential fatty acids can be dry all year round, so boost the oils under your skin by taking a fish oil supplement. Rich in omega-3 oils, fish oil makes joints feel better and skin look younger and fresher. Health.com suggests a supplement that contains 180 milligrams of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and 120 milligrams of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) taken three times daily for the best results.
You've heard it repeatedly, but drinking water is more important than ever during the winter. It keeps you hydrated internally and helps the rest of the body in many of its functions. Clearly, water is essential for good health.
Though experts sometimes question the benefits of drinking copious amounts of water to keep the skin soft (some state this water cannot have any effect on the epidermis itself, since the skin's condition is determined specifically by external factors), it's still a good idea in general to drink water. While drinking water can help maintain your skin's optimum health, don't rely on it as a dry skin cure-all.
Avoid Hot Water
After an afternoon on the slopes or an evening of making snow angels, you may want to soak in a hot bath or stand in a hot shower to get warm. Doing this warms you up but may also dry you out. According to MayoClinic.com, taking a hot shower or bath breaks down the lipid barrier in your skin and makes it easier for your skin to lose its moisture. Taking warm or lukewarm baths and showers are best for preventing parched skin.
Joyce Carboni, licensed esthetician and director of Skinsational Spa in North San Diego, reminds us that "To help repair skin, avoid over-washing in the shower, since soap and hot water can strip skin of its natural oils." Additionally, "make sure to apply a layer of moisturizer right away to lock in moisture."
Humidifiers are ideal for reintroducing moisture back into the air inside your home, where the bulk of dry skin problems come from during the winter. Leave it on at night while you sleep and reap the benefits all season long by using it regularly.
During the summer, it is important to scuff away dry skin by exfoliating it regularly. While you still need to exfolilate, in winter you need to ease up on the process. Try exfoliating your face and body just once a week or once every two weeks. You still get smooth without damaging already stressed skin.
Joanna Vargas, senior aesthetician at the Tracie Martyn Salon in New York, points out, "Winter is the time to repair the skin after a long summer of sun damage, so I recommend to clients that they get a great cleansing and exfoliating facial at the start of the season to get rid of the flaky skin that builds up." She continues, "Now is also the time to address pigment damage that has occurred due to sun exposure."
Remember that shaving is a way to exfoliate, so even though it is not miniskirt season, don't neglect the razor for too many days in a row.
Add Moisture Back
Moisturize immediately after showering by patting the skin dry with a towel so that it is left slightly damp.
- Immediately seal in that dampness with your lotion or body oil of choice.
- Apply the body oil all over, massaging gently. Note that the oil won't "sink in" the way a lotion will; you can expect to feel it for a little while.
- If your skin is exceptionally dry, you can apply a coat of a rich body cream after a few minutes.
This is a great pre-bedtime ritual that can even help lull you off to sleep. Vargas recommends a heavier moisturizer because it acts as a barrier between the skin and the harsh wind, but also the dry heat indoors. She states, "I usually recommend something organic so we are balancing the intense toxins in the air with something pure for the body."
Ingredients that may help with dry skin include:
- Oatmeal: Cure itchiness by applying a healing moisturizer loaded with colloidal oatmeal, such as Aveeno Moisturizing Cream. It's gentle enough to use even on the face, and is formulated to calm extremely dry, uncomfortable skin.
- Natural oils: Opt for thick soaps infused with moisturizing oils and butters. Shea butter and sesame oil are common ingredients in exceptionally moisturizing cleansers. Alternatively, everyone's skin will react differently, so you may want to try olive oil, argan oil, or coconut oil in lieu of other moisturizers. Carboni recommends that your skin care products include "ingredients such as safflower oil, which can restore the natural oil balance in skin."
- Essential oils: Try using a lavender or chamomile essential oil. These scented body oils help you get a good night's rest and lubricate your skin. Mix a few drops of essential oils with unscented baby oil. Apply to all parts of your body except your face, and while you sleep, your body will enjoy a restorative treatment that keeps skin dewy.
Keep Hands and Feet Hydrated
Hands and feet take a beating year round, but during the winter, they're prone to excessive dryness. Carboni tell us that in order to protect against winter weather, we should switch "from water based to cream based products."
- Apply a good hand cream like Curel Advanced Therapy (which contains a potent blend of Monoi oil, soy milk and vitamin E) regularly.
- Before going to bed, apply a rich moisturizer to your feet and pull on a pair of socks.
Your skin will thank you by staying supple all season long.
Love Your Lips
Lips need skin care love, too. Use an exfoliating treatment like MaryKay Satin Lips Lip Mask once a week to remove dead skin from your lips because soft, supple lips help you achieve a dewy look. Avoid scented lip products or lip stains that are heavy on drying ingredients. These products keep your color in place, but they dry you out, too. Instead, tuck a lip balm in your pocket for quick lip relief.
Use Facial Moisturizers
If you're loyal to a lightweight lotion during the warmer months of the year, don't give it up in winter. Just add to its potency by combining it with a serum. Apply the lightweight product first so it penetrates deep into the skin and leaves it supremely soft and supple. Wait five minutes, and then follow with your regular moisturizer. During the night, use a rich, oil-based cream to deliver plenty of necessary hydration while you sleep.
Vargas adds, "Facial moisturizers can be applied twice a day -- once in the morning and once at night. If you find you need more than that, you are probably not using the right product for your skin needs." In addition, try "a mineral water facial spray, like Evian, or just plain Rosewater, if the skin needs a pick-me-up throughout the day or if you are traveling."
Protecting with sunscreen is one of the beauty industry's gold standard rules, and it applies all year round. The sun's rays are still effective during the winter, even though they may be weaker, and sensitive skin still needs protection. Those short-wave UVB rays can easily harm the skin and cause skin cancer and wrinkles, among other things. Apply a sunscreen of at least SPF 30 every day, no matter what the season might be, and reapply it often.
Keeping Skin Dewy in Winter
Though it can be more difficult to keep skin glowing in winter, especially for those prone to dry, itchy, irritated skin, there are ways to combat the issues that tend to crop up when there's snow on the ground. Staying moisturized, hydrated, and following a few simple lifestyle practices, such as using a humidifier, will allow you to stave off the dry skin that sometimes accompany the colder months and keep your skin looking dewy and beautiful.