Winter is fast approaching in the northern hemisphere, bringing colder temperatures and dryer air for most of us. While you gear up for the winter holidays and your favorite cold-weather activities, keep these eight tips in mind for protecting your skin.
Colder air can cause irritation and dryness, which can lead to flakiness or rashes if left untreated. While staying indoors may give you shelter from the elements, thermostats set on high, blazing fireplaces, and even long warm showers can further dry out and irritate your skin.
Melodie Perez, a skin health advocate and influencer, describes how she navigates the chilly winters of New York City, where she lives. “Seasonal fluctuations can be a difficult time for my skin. Both the temperature and humidity levels affect the way my skin reacts," she says. "The colder months tend to dry out my skin and cause my skin to become red and even peel occasionally.”
When it comes to taking care of your skin this winter, there are many steps you can take!
Beware of dry air. While the best antidote to the cold can seem to be turning up the heat or lighting a nice fire in the fireplace when you get inside, the heat can also zap the moisture from the air. And dry air can irritate your skin. To counteract this dry heat, consider using a humidifier to add moisture back into the air.
Dry, cold weather can cause a range of dry skin issues, including patchy or flaky spots, xerosis, or flare-ups for people who have eczema. To soothe dry, irritated skin, consider applying lotion or moisturizer frequently during the winter months. If you have a chronic skin condition or develop extremely dry, uncomfortable skin, speak with your healthcare provider about products that might help.
Chapped lips are common in the winter, as our bodies are prone to losing moisture this time of year. Keeping a stick of lip balm with you can offer a handy remedy when you feel chapped lips coming on.
Hot or even warm showers and baths can dry the skin out by stripping away the necessary natural oils that normally form a barrier on the outer layer of your skin. To avoid this, consider limiting your showers to ten minutes or less, and avoid very hot water.
Perez’s top tip for protecting your skin this winter is “to maintain skin hydration.” She says that “maintaining the skin’s hydration helps with skin elasticity, prevents wrinkles, and makes your skin both look and feel better all around. So pack on those ceramides this winter!”
Ceramides are lipids that form a natural barrier on the skin. They “play an essential role in structuring and maintaining the water permeability barrier function of the skin.” Incorporating products that contain ceramides into your skin care routine can restore the skin barrier, locking in moisture for the day.
Perez says that her own facial skin care routine changes depending on the season. “My winter skincare routine typically consists of a gentle cleanser, a hydrating toner, perhaps a hyaluronic acid serum, a moisturizer with lots of ceramides, and lastly my sunscreen — and yes, sunscreen is important even in winter!”
It’s easy to remember to drink water in the heat of the summer months. However, staying hydrated is just as important in the winter. Drinking water is a great way to counteract the dry conditions that come with the winter season.
Make sure to protect your skin from the elements by wearing layers. Layering up can keep you warm while also blocking out cold, dry air. Make sure to change out of wet clothes as soon as possible to prevent irritation.
It’s important to keep up a daily habit of applying sunscreen, even in winter. “Harmful UVA and UVB rays still come in contact with your skin in the wintertime, even on cloudy days. These harmful rays can lead to premature aging, skin cancer, and increased hyperpigmentation if your skin is not properly protected,” Perez says.
Have more questions about taking care of yourself this winter? Schedule a virtual or in-person appointment with a Carbon Health healthcare provider, at carbonhealth.com or via the Carbon Health mobile app.