Sometimes, your skin knows that winter has arrived even before you do! The tell-tale signs of dry winter skin seem to come out of nowhere: itching, scaliness, patchiness, peeling and tightness are common skincare concerns in the winter months.
Fortunately, you don’t have to let dry winter skin ruin your holiday season. There are five simple practices that you can adopt right now that will help your skin feel smooth, soft, comfortable and luminous all winter long.
Choose the Right Moisturizer
When you’re standing in the drugstore, staring at a wall of products that promise to keep your skin dewy and fresh, it can be hard to know exactly which bottle of moisturizer will work for you.
To choose the right skincare products for dry skin in winter, you need to understand the three different types of moisturizers: humectants, emollients and occlusive.
- Humectants include ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin and urea, which draw moisture from deep within your skin to its surface.
- Emollients include shea butter and collagen, which keep from cracking and peeling by lubricating its surface.
- Occlusives create a water-based film on top of your skin, keeping moisture from evaporating into the air, and are usually made from ingredients such as lanolin and mineral oil.During a cold, dry winter, try combining products containing all three types of moisturizers for maximum skin softness.
Hydrate from Within
Scientists at the University of Wisconsin have found that proper hydration is essential for skin that feels soft, smooth and hydrated. Anything less than two liters per day could put you at risk of itchy, flaky skin this winter.
While simple room-temperature water will always be the best source of hydration, you can also nourish your skin through warming herbal teas or hot water with a slice of organic lemon. Pack these low-calorie, skin-friendly treats in a large travel mug and sip on them throughout your day.
Keep Covered in the Cold
As if the dry, cold air wasn’t bad enough on its own, winter often brings icy wind gusts and heavy snows, both of which can exacerbate winter skin problems.
The best way to protect your skin from the elements is to bundle up tightly. Use a chic scarf to cover your neck and chest, and keep your ears covered with fluffy earmuffs or a funky toque. There are lots of great new tech-friendly gloves on the market; these allow you to keep your hands warm while using your phone, tablet or smart watch outdoors.
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On sunny winter days, the reflection of sunlight off of the snow can cause you to squint, which causes wrinkles around the eyes and on the forehead to appear more prominent, making facial skin to look even drier than it feels. Avoid this winter weather danger by wearing sunglasses with full UVA and UVB protection whenever you go outside.
Humidify Your Home
Increasing the humidity level in your home is one of the best ways to fight dry skin in the winter.
The easiest way to raise home humidity levels is with a humidifier, which gently replaces the dry air in your home with more comfortable, more humid air. If you live in a very dry climate, you may want to have a professional install a centralized, whole-home humidifying solution. Otherwise, you can purchase small, portable humidifiers and move them around as needed. Place one in the kitchen while you prepare dinner, and leave one in your bedroom overnight.
Most experts recommend that you use distilled or purified water in your home humidifier. Many portable humidifiers also feature a small tray where you can add between three and five drops of beautifully fragrant essential oils.
Seek Out Warmer Pastures
If you’ve implemented the first four strategies but are still suffering from dry skin in winter, it might be time for a change of scenery!
Whether you choose a quick weekend getaway in a seaside village or a full week at an all-inclusive resort in the tropics, escaping the cold weather for a warm and sunny destination can give your dry skin a desperately needed break from the dry, cold air. Make sure to pack lots of sunscreen, as your skin benefits from the warm, moist air… not the sun’s dangerous rays!
If you can’t escape overnight, look for hot and humid options closer to home. Your local gym may have an infrared sauna that offers refreshingly warm temperatures, or a nearby spa might offer a steam room for clients. Even a hot yoga class could do the trick!
Winter is a time to celebrate with friends and family while embracing all things cozy and comfortable. These five strategies will help you eliminate dry winter skin worries so that you can make the most of the holiday season.