Chilly winter temperatures can give your skin a lovely, rosy flush, but they can also take a toll on your skin. Cool temperatures, harsh winds, and dry air remove the natural oils from the surface of the skin, making it dry and prone to irritation. The skin can become itchy and painful, and skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis can act up. Fortunately, there are many steps that you can take to prevent dryness and irritation, protecting the health and appearance of your skin, as well as your own comfort.
Protect Your Skin
First, be careful to avoid things that can further irritate and dry out your skin.
While long hot showers can feel like a heavenly reprieve from chilly weather, the hot water is harsh on your skin. Keep showers brief and use gentle soaps with moisturizing ingredients. After your shower, use your towel to pat dry. Rubbing with a rough towel can irritate your skin. When getting dressed, avoid wools and polyester as inner layers, as these fabrics can further irritate the skin. Instead, use breathable fabrics to avoid irritation, especially if you’re experiencing a flare up from eczema, psoriasis, or another skin condition.
Eczema and psoriasis are immune responses, so flare ups can be minimized by staying in good health. Be sure to receive your flu shot and any other vaccinations your doctor recommends. Don’t forget the basics to keep yourself in good health, as well: wash your hands frequently, get plenty of rest, eat a healthy diet, and exercise.
These basics can also minimize stress, which in turn can help keep you healthy and, according to some research, maximize your skin’s ability to retain water. As winter is a stressful time for many people, between the holidays and the negative feelings that often accompany shorter days and cooler temperatures, minimizing stress can fight one more factor that dries out your skin. Try stress relieving activities like yoga, meditation, and journaling.
Once you’ve taken steps to protect your skin against further damage, you need to resupply your skin with the hydration that it has lost.
Many people use humidifiers to increase the moisture content of the air in their homes. Ideally, humidity should be kept between 30 and 50 percent (This can be measured with a hygrometer). However, those with asthma or a mold allergy should use humidifiers with caution. If the air is too humid, it can foster the breeding of mold and other allergens, and if you aren’t careful with cleaning, your humidifier can quickly develop mold and bacteria.
You should also apply heavy duty moisturizers to both replenish moisture and replace the protective barrier. Your moisturizer should be oil based rather than water based (hint: many moisturizers marketed as “night creams” are oil based), but be careful to use oils that won’t clog your pores, like avocado oil, mineral oil, primrose oil, or almond oil. Avoid shea oil and shea butter. Ideally, your moisturizer will also contain humectants, which are ingredients that attract moisture to your skin. Ingredients to look for include glycerine, sorbitol, and alpha-hydroxy acids.
You should also use exfoliating treatments to remove the layer of dry, dead skin cells that can clog up your pores and worsen irritation. You can exfoliate at home or get more thorough treatments from a cosmetic or plastic surgeon.
At-home exfoliations can include scrubs, masks, and other treatments; and can use either physical exfoliators or acids that chemically remove the dead skin. Acids are typically gentler. Beware with do-it-yourself exfoliant recipes. These often include ingredients like salt and baking soda, which are drying and can irritate the skin.
You can also seek professional skin resurfacing treatment like chemical peels, dermabrasion and microdermabrasion, and laser resurfacing treatments. Regardless of the type of exfoliation, be sure to moisturize well afterwards, as the process strips your skin of its protective layer of oils.
See a Specialist
One of the best things you can do to take care of your facial skin during the winter is to see a professional. A dermatologist can help you determine a good routine to ensure the health of your skin, while seeing a plastic surgeon, particularly one specializing in facial cosmetic procedures, can ensure that your skin looks its best while staying as healthy as possible.
Dr. William J. Binder is considered one of the world’s best plastic surgeons and is based out of Los Angeles. He is double board certified, has been extensively published, and has 10 patents on medical devices and pharmaceuticals. Despite Dr. Binder’s achievements, his true passion remains with working with his patients to achieve peerless results.
Ensure that your skin looks and feels its best, even in the chilly and stressful winter months. Contact Dr. Binder’s office today to schedule your consultation.