Winter Skin Solutions
For many of us, the days of winter bring more than just cold temperatures, the holidays and shorter days. They also bring unwelcome dryness to our skin. Winter is here and the changing weather and humidity can lead to dry, cracked skin and worsen existing skin conditions.
Your skin may feel the effects of both the outside temperatures and elements, along with the introduction of the new warm air circulating from your heating vent. As soon as you turn the heat on indoors, your skin starts to dry out. This effect increases as we go from warm house, to cold outdoors, to warm cars and so on. The quick change in temperature is difficult for our skin to regulate.
When moisture in the skin is reduced, it appears less full, less toned, flaky and dull. Water is the skin’s main source of moisture. Most treatments for dry skin add water or retain water already existing in the skin. Both excessive humidity (above 90%) and low humidity (less than 10%) break down your outer skin barrier. For the skin to appear and feel normal, the water content of this outer layer must be above 10%, ideally between 20 and 35%.
There are some steps you can take to tackle your dry skin dilemma.
Cleanse your skin without removing all of its natural moisturizers and then apply a topical skin nutrition product to help you retain moisture. Use a moisturizing or gentle enzyme cleanser that won’t dry out already compromised skin. You may want to switch to a sensitive skin formula if dryness worsens. See your Dermatologist if your skin becomes red or flaky.
Next, use a maximum hydrating agent utilizing a naturally occurring ingredient like Hyaluronic Acid. Found in our bodies, HA helps keep our joints lubricated and using it on your skin topically is like giving your skin a drink of water. In addition, switch from the lighter lotion you used in the summer to a heavier cream formulated for your skin type. Thicker creams are slower to absorb and will add an additional layer of protection for your skin.
Here are some other tips for the dry season to keep your total body hydrated:
- Protect Your Hands- It is difficult to keep your hands moist in cold, dry weather because the skin on your hands is thinner and has fewer oil glands than on most other parts of your body. This can lead to itchy, cracked skin. Be sure to use hand cream and wear gloves when you go outside-avoid wool if possible as it can be irritating.
- Avoid Wet Socks and Gloves-Wearing wet socks and gloves can irritate your skin increasing the chance for itching, cracking, and sores. The gloves and socks are not the problem themselves, but rather what we do when we take them off. You need to moisturize your skin to replenish the oils. Otherwise, it will dry out and become chapped.
- Humidify the Air- Central heating systems and heaters push hot, dry air through our homes and offices where we spend most of our time. Humidifiers will put moisture in the air and help prevent your skin from drying out.
- Take a Break from Peels-If your facial skin is extremely dry or sensitive this time of year, avoid using harsh peels, masks, and any alcohol-based toners or astringents-these products can strip essential oils and moisture from your skin. Instead opt for a hydrating facial at the spa.
Finally, continue to use your sunblock. The sun’s rays can be damaging year round, even on a cloudy day. Use a sun protection product with an SPF of at least 30 and re-apply often to all exposed areas. Physical sunblocks such as zinc oxide are ideal because they offer full spectrum UVA & UVB protection.
To your skin health,
About the Author: Dr. Richard Asarch heads the Asarch Center for Dermatology and Laser in Denver, CO, its accompanying state-of-the-art DermaSpa and is an Associate Clinical Professor for the Dept. of Dermatology at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. As one of America’s top medical doctors, Dr. Asarch has spent 35 years in practice evaluating and adopting the latest advances in cosmetic dermatology. Dr. Asarch has a full line of Skin Nutrition Products available at www.dermasparx.com