While many people associate winter with hot chocolate, snowball fights and that rosy-cheeked glow you get after spending time outdoors, others may be dreading the uncomfortable side effects of cold air on their skin.
Some of those side effects can include flaky, peeling, or even cracking skin on your face, feet, and hands. Here are some simple tips on how to keep your skin healthy and moisturized even at the coldest time of the year.
A long, hot soak might sound tempting after being out in the cold, but the heat could dehydrate your skin even further by breaking down its lipid barriers and whisking away the moisture on its surface. Instead, keep your showers short and warm in the winter months. Don't forget to slather on a thick moisturizer immediately afterward, while your skin is still damp, to help trap in some of that moisture.
Your summer skin care routine will need to be ramped up as weather conditions become harsher. For your face, stay away from drying alcohol-based cosmetics, toners, and cleansers. Instead, choose deeply hydrating, oil-based moisturizers such as night creams that can help create a protective layer on your skin.
You can replace some of the moisture that evaporates from your body at night by investing in a humidifier. A humidifier can do wonders for your skin by forcing moisture into the air indoors, keeping your skin hydrated while you sleep.
Change your socks as soon as you get home since the sweat from wearing boots can irritate your feet. Exfoliate regularly before applying a lotion—preferably containing ingredients such as petroleum jelly or glycerine—so that it can be better absorbed into your feet.
You'll need to choose heavier creams for your hands as well (look for ingredients like urea and lactic acid) and reapply regularly throughout the day. For an extra boost, consider wearing breathable cotton gloves and socks to bed to keep the moisture locked in while you sleep.
The damaging effects of the sun's ultraviolet rays can be further compounded by glare from the snow, especially if you're skiing or snowboarding at high altitudes. Don't put the sunscreen away come winter. Apply it to your face and hands regularly before going outside.
For optimal health, the Mayo Clinic recommends women drink 11.5 cups of fluids daily and 15.5 cups for men. Keeping hydrated internally can increase blood flow to your skin, which helps even out your complexion. It also helps your body flush out toxins, reduce puffiness, and keep a healthy pH balance.
If you find the tips above don't work, the dryness in your skin could be a symptom of a more serious health condition that requires different treatment. Keep an eye on cracks in your skin that could lead to infection, pain or swelling, and stop by your nearest CityMD if needed.