Perfect winter skin sounds like a pipe dream to most people. Suffering through cold air, a dry office, and icy walks through town can make winter pretty miserable. So what can you do to protect yourself from the elements? Whether your skin is usually dry, normal, combination, or oily, many of these tips will apply to you. So let’s get through the winter skin blues, not just in one piece, but with perfect winter skin.
Do you wake up itchy? If you do, then it may be time to invest in a humidifier. I recommend warm mist humidifiers, a.k.a. vaporizers. Warm mist humidifiers heat water before aerosolizing, helping to kill bacteria and viruses. Aim for a humidity of 40-50%. Too much humidity will make a nice home for mold and mildew to grow, which can lead to even more skin problems. So make sure to clean or replace your humidifier’s filter regularly as well.
Your skin’s natural oils are your friend. Not only do they help keep your skin hydrated, but they also help protect your skin from the elements. Harsh soaps can strip your skin of its natural oils, leaving you more susceptible to skin infection. When you shower or wash your face, try using less soap than you normally would during the summer. A tablespoon’s worth of body wash is plenty enough for your body. Switch to a gentle cleanser for your face as well. I’ve recommended Dove’s beauty bars to my patients for years and started working with the brand recently.
Also, opt for warm water over hot water. It can be tempting to take a hot shower in the winter, but the hot water can actually melt away your skin’s natural moisturizers, causing water to evaporate right out of your skin! After washing, use a body oil to replenish some of the natural oils that washed off in your shower. If you use Dove’s dry oil body wash, you can skip this step because the body oils are built into the body wash. Pat yourself dry because rubbing can be irritating to already sensitive skin.
Moisturize your face before applying any makeup. People with normal or dry skin should use a moisturizer with a mild vitamin A, like retinyl palmitate. My skincare line, Livad Skin Care, is coming out with a complexion cream that will be perfect for the winter. It also includes a few essential oils, like sunflower and cucumber, that are great for replenishing your skin’s hydration. People with more combination or oily skin can use a stronger vitamin A, like retinol.
If you still suffer from acne during the winter, a strong cleanser like Neutrogena’s oil-free Acne Wash, which contains 2% salicylic acid will help. A facial cleanser which contains glycolic acid works as well. Keep in mind that these products will likely dry out your skin and your acne, so try to find a balance that works for you.
Pregnant women should avoid vitamin A products and salicylic acid, so they should look for a very basic moisturizer like Lubriderm and a glycolic acid product for acne if necessary.
If you find yourself outside or driving a lot during the winter, it’s a good idea to continue using sunscreen. The sun still shines during the winter, so any exposed skin can still be sun damaged. However, if you’re barely outside and not by a window during the day, then there is little use in wearing sunscreen. With hats, scarves, gloves, and jackets, very little skin will see any sunlight. Skiers, on the other hand, should absolutely wear sunscreen when on the slopes. With the combination of high altitude and reflection from the snow, many skiers come home with sunburnt faces. They should use an SPF 50 broad spectrum sunscreen. Most outdoor workers and drivers can get away with SPF 30 broad spectrum sunscreen during the winter.
If you suffer from chapped lips, stay away from lip balms and don’t lick your lips! Go for Aquaphor. While many lip balms are soothing in the short term, they can actually perpetuate your chapped lip problem. Aquaphor will lock in moisture, keeping your lips soft and fresh.
For chapped, dry hands and feet, go for heavy creams like Eucerin or Nivea, or ointments like Vaseline or Aquaphor. Your clothing matters too. Fleece, microfiber, and wool are great material options when looking for winter apparel. Make sure to wear scarves, mittens, and thick socks. Guarding your skin from cold wind and dry air will be instrumental in keeping your skin soft and hydrated.
In the office you may or may not have control over your heating and humidity. If you do, then make sure your humidity is around 40-50%. If your office temperature is too low, I strongly do not recommend buying a space heater. Space heaters have a tendency to dry out the air in a room, which will negatively impact your skin. Wearing an extra layer of clothing may be your best option if you cannot change the thermostat.
There isn’t much you need to do at night to keep your skin in tip top shape. Assuming your home is at a comfortable temperature, and assuming you’ve already gone and bought a warm mist humidifier, you’re well on your way to perfect winter skin. Now is the time to check your body to see if there are any spots that need a little extra tender love and care. Typical problem areas will be your hands and face, since these are the typical areas exposed to the cold and dry winter air during the day.
Remember not to use harsh cleansers and soaps during the winter. I like Ponds for taking makeup off at the end of the day, but natural oils like baby oil, olive oil, and sunflower oil can work as well. Use a Dove beauty bar afterwards if your face feels oily.
If your feet or hands are dry and cracked even though you wear mittens and thick socks during the day, you should use more Vaseline or Aquaphor at night. Blot off any excess with a tissue. This routine should work for anybody! If you still have winter skin concerns, you may want to ask your dermatologist for suggestions that fit better with your unique skin and lifestyle.