Practicing Skin Safety in Winter Months
For most of the country, winter is an all-around harsh month. The days are shorter, the weather is colder, and the effects on your skin can be much more damaging.
Even more frustrating is that escaping damaging environments in the winter can seem impossible. While in the summertime, a simple way to protect your skin is by staying indoors, it’s not so easy in the winter. While cold weather, harsh winds, and dry air outside may leave your skin itchy and red, heated rooms and hot showers dry your skin and strip it of protective oils.
So what’s a person to do in those cold winter months to protect their sensitive skin? Read on for our top tips for skin safety in winter months.
- Moisturize often
Generously moisturizing your skin during winter months is, for most, a no-brainer. If the air is pulling moisture out of your skin, you’ve got to regularly put it back in.
What may be less intuitive, though, is selecting the type of moisturizer to use. While a lightweight lotion works well for warmer months, it’s best to apply something a bit more heavy duty in winter months.
Opt for an oil-based cream or ointment rather than a water-based lotion. If you’re concerned about breakouts, a non-comedogenic moisturizer won’t clog your pores. This will not only lock moisture in your skin, but also add oils back into your skin that are constantly depleted by washing your hands or showering in hot water. Be sure to moisturize immediately after doing either. Speaking of showering…
Along with moisturizing, it’s also important to use makeup that won’t dry out your skin. For the winter months, look for liquid mineral foundation and concealer that will give your skin a healthy glow without drying it out or being too oily.
- Take warm showers, not hot
Although you may crave a long, steamy shower on a cold winter morning, your skin doesn’t. Excessively hot showers not only strip your skin of its natural oils, but they also further dehydrate your skin. Have you ever come out of the shower with red, itchy skin? That’s a sign you’ve done some damage.
The American Academy of Dermatology suggests limiting your shower or bath to 5-10 minutes with warm water—not hot. Same goes for washing your hands or the dishes.
- Exfoliate regularly
It may seem counterintuitive to exfoliate skin that already feels raw, but a regular topical exfoliant can actually improve your skin during the winter. It will remove dead skin cells and encourage your skin to regenerate new ones. It can also rid your skin of any dead skin cells that may be trapped by your moisturizer. It’s best to select an exfoliant without salicylic acid, urea, or lactic acid, as these can be drying.
- Apply sunscreen daily
Sunscreen should not be reserved for summer months. Although the air may be cold in wintertime, the sun’s rays are just as powerful. Choose a sunscreen with at least 30 SPF and apply on your face, neck, and hands. Always opt for non-chemical sunscreen, to protect against the sun as well as environmental stressors.
If you have any winter sports planned for your day, sunscreen is even more important. According to the Skin Cancer Institute, “UV rays can be every bit as damaging on the slopes as on the beach.” Higher altitude means stronger UV radiation, and both snow and wind can reduce sunscreen’s effectiveness. Regularly and liberally apply sunscreen every few hours to ensure your skin remains protected.
- Invest in a humidifier to protect yourself at home
Heated rooms are inevitably dry, putting your skin at further risk of damage even inside your own home. Just as moisturizer rehydrates your skin, a humidifier can rehydrate the air in your home. This will help replenish your skin after exposure to the elements while outdoors.
Be sure to put a humidifier in the rooms you spend the most time in, like your bedroom or your main living area. If you have central heat, there may be a humidifier built into your heating system. Check first before heading out to the store!
Wintertime is harsh, and your skin takes the brunt of the damage. Be sure you’re protecting yourself with the above tips to prevent common wintertime ailments like dryness, cracks, and itchy skin. In the long run, these tips will keep your skin looking younger, longer.