Cold, dry air can leave your skin itchy, red, and irritated. Combat dry winter skin with these tips for retaining your skin’s natural moisture.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when it comes to effective winter skincare, so that you can feel your best all winter long.
1. Invest in a Humidifier to Maximize Moisture
Using a humidifier in your home or office will add moisture to dry winter air and help keep your skin hydrated. Run a humidifier in the rooms you spend the most time in, including your bedroom.
2. Lower the Thermostat to Avoid Dryness
When it’s chilly outside, what’s the first thing you want to do? Crank up the heat! But central heat can make the air in your house even drier. Try setting the thermostat at a cool yet comfortable setting — 68°F to 72°F — to maintain healthy skin.
3. Limit Shower Time and Temperature
It may be tempting to take a long, steamy shower, but your skin will be much better-served with a 5- to 10-minute lukewarm shower (or bath), as the AAD suggests. You should also avoid using excessively hot water when washing your hands — if the water causes your skin to turn red, it’s too hot. Washing your hands in cooler water appears to be as effective at removing germs as warm water and is less irritating to skin, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).And if you’re using a restroom air hand-dryer, use it just until your hands are damp rather than perfectly dry.
4. Moisturize Frequently, Especially Your Hands
Maintain healthy skin by moisturizing after washing up. “It’s best to use a cream or ointment in the winter. Lotions are better in warmer, humid climates. And don’t forget your hands,” says Dr. Stein Gold. Hand-washing, as the CDC notes, is vital, especially during cold and flu season. But, as Stein Gold points out, “constant washing will cause the hands to take a beating.”
Applying a hand cream after each washing can help, Stein Gold adds. She also recommends wearing waterproof gloves when washing dishes or cleaning around the house.
5. Apply Sunscreen — Even on Gray Winter Days
On bright winter days, snow reflects the sun’s rays — up to 80 percent, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation — increasing your risk of exposure. That means whether you’re out on the slopes, playing in the snow, or just walking through a parking lot on an errand run, it’s just as important to be applying sunscreen in the harsh winter weather as it is in the summer.
And don’t be fooled by darker, dreary days in winter, either. The sun’s harmful UV rays can permeate clouds and still cause damage.
Before you go outside, apply a moisturizing, broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher to all exposed areas of your body.
6. Wear Appropriate, Comfortable, Nonirritating Clothing
Many cold-weather fabrics can aggravate dry winter skin. “Keep wool and rough clothing from directly touching your skin,” Stein Gold says. “This can cause dry skin to get irritated and itchy.”
Instead, wear light layers made from soft, breathable materials directly against your skin, and then pull on your heavier, warmer sweaters. Be sure to protect your hands from cold winter air with gloves or mittens, remembering to choose a pair that won’t irritate your skin. If you prefer wool gloves, put on cotton or silk glove liners first.
7. Remember to Eat Right and Stay Hydrated
“Sometimes when skin is very dry, it can be helped by foods or supplements that contain omega-3 or omega-6 fatty acids, such as fish oil and flaxseed oil,” says Barbara R. Reed, MD, a dermatologist in private practice at Denver Skin Clinic. “For the most part, however, it is important to help the skin moisturize from the outside.”