There's more to protecting your skin in cold weather than wrapping it in layers of wool and knits. Here's how to have smooth, soft skin no matter how many blizzard warnings you get.
Cold to the bone, eh? Imagine what those icy outdoor temps can do to your skin! Cold air holds less moisture than warm air, leading to drier skin. Top that off with low humidity and central heating, and you're complexion can take a major hit.
"Heat from radiators or central heating systems only makes matters worse, as there is almost no moisture whatsoever that accompanies the dry heat being pumped throughout people's homes and offices," says Whitney Bowe, M.D., clinical assistant professor of dermatology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York. Unfortunately, there's not much you can do about dry skin culprits -- Mother Nature does her own thing. But there are ways to prevent dehydration and repair weather worn skin. Read on for expert-approved tips.
Exfoliate with Kid Gloves
Buildup doesn't just happen with hair products. Dead, dry skin cells can often pile up on the surface of the skin, leading to a dull complexion and clogged pores. To sweep them away, use gentle scrubs combined with a little cleanser at the end of your shower, when skin has had a chance to absorb the steam. "The top layer of dead skin will come off with ease, prepping your skin to absorb moisturizers more effectively," says Lisa Ginn, M.D., a dermatologist in Chevy Chase, Maryland.
Pump Up the Moisture
Skin dryness is one of the biggest cold-weather complaints. Oily, normal, and combination skin types need to attract and seal water into their skin without adding additional oil. Stock up on serums and moisturizing creams that contain hyaluronic acid or glycerin (we like: Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream, $23.99), which act as humectants and attract water from the environment, coating skin with a blanket of soothing moisture. If your skin is already dry or sensitive, you'll benefit from serums that are rich in hyaluronic acid and moisturizers that have a thicker consistency. Great creams to look for contain shea butter or olive oil -- both ingredients layer nicely over the hyaluronic acid serums to give skin a nice glow.
Don't forget that sunscreen should be used year-round, especially for those who spend a good deal of time outdoors or participate in winter snow sports, Ginn says. The glare from the bright, white snow is just as harmful to skin as summertime sun exposure.
Pamper Your Body
A wonderful treat for your skin is a weekly dry brush session that you do with a body brush prior to showering (simply brush the skin in an upward motion to lift dead skin cells). Another way to show the skin below your neck some TLC: Use a sugar scrub once a week to remove dead skin and seal in moisture. "For the winter, I prefer sugar as opposed to salt scrubs, as salt scrubs tend to have a drying effect on the skin," Ginn says.
After your shower, apply a body oil or rich lotion that contains shea butter. "I find that straight coconut oil is also a wonderful moisturizer for the body during the colder months." If your skin is excessively dry or weekly exfoliating sessions sound like too much work, slather on specialized hydrating lotions that contain lactic acid like AmLactin Moisturizing Lotion ($14.99), which exfoliate the skin while locking in moisture.