Baby, it’s cold outside. And dry. Well, at least it is if you live in an area of the northern hemisphere that experiences all four seasons. As temps drop, skin concerns shift. Below are a list of tweaks to your skincare routine that can help you cope with dry, itchy winter skin.
1.) Make sure you’re drinking water. While dry skin is a type, dehydrated skin is merely a condition and is, for the most part, treatable. You don’t need to chug H₂O until your belly sloshes like an ambulatory cistern. Just remember to hydrate and (as always) consume caffeine and alcohol in moderation.
2.) Double up on moisturizers. Not only do you want a humectant* to pull moisture into the epidermis, but you also want an occlusive** to trap that moisture in the skin. This can be achieved either by using a heavy-duty moisturizer with both humectant and occlusive ingredients (such as Cetaphil cream), or applying and humectant and following up with a layer of the occlusive moisturizer of your choice.
*Check ingredient lists for glycerin, hyaluronic acid, urea, and AHAs; raw honey is an effective natural humectant
**Check ingredient lists for petrolatum, mineral oil, or lanolin, or use occlusive plant moisturizers like argan oil, shea butter, or coconut oil***
***Remember that coconut oil and palm oil can be highly comedogenic for some, so avoid use on the face if you are prone to comedogenic breakouts.
3.) Cool it with your bathing routine. Turn down the temp on your baths and showers, as prolonged contact with hot water can be very drying for the skin. Additionally, keep showers under 5 minutes to reduce skin and hair dryness in winter months.
4.) Invest in a humidifier. If dry winter air has got you down, then increase the moisture in your home’s air. If you live in a large space and can only afford to humidify one room, make it your bedroom.
5.) Avoid common irritants. Products including menthol, sodium lauryl sulfate, essential oils (especially eucalyptus, peppermint, ginger, and lavender), added fragrance, and alcohol (with the exception of fatty alcohols) commonly cause irritation on dry, vulnerable winter skin.
6.) Don’t skimp on sunscreen! Just because it’s not bikini weather doesn’t mean you’re immune to the sun’s harmful rays. You can skill suffer UV damage on cloudy days; gray and miserable weather doesn’t earn you a break from SPF. Sunscreen is even more important in snowy areas, as snow is highly reflective and can bounce sunlight back up into your face from the ground (as a person who has earned more than her fair share of facial sunburns during the winter and early spring, heed my warning).
7.) Exfoliate smarter, not harder. Dry skin can’t handle rough scrubbing (which you really shouldn’t be doing anyway). Why not ditch mechanical exfoliation in favor of a chemical option. AHAs are gentle on skin but still highly effective at sloughing off dry, flaky patches. Ingredients like glycolic acid, lactic acid, and mandelic acid reveal healthy, moisturized skin–and they won’t cause microlacerations like some mechanical exfoliants.