Winter Skincare Survival Strategies
Tips to make your skin glow all winter long
Winter can be harsh on anyone's skin, as the extreme temperatures and dry conditions can lead to anyone having problems.
It's a common aliment, according to Dr. Justin Piasecki, M.D., a double-board certified plastic surgeon and founder of Harbor Plastic Surgery in Washington. Dr. Piasecki said, “It needs to be correctly treated to prevent chronically dehydrated, irritated, and inflamed skin. The added stress of the holidays and eating rich, indulgent seasonal treats can exacerbate skin problems at the worst possible time—when social calendars are filled with office parties, festive family get-togethers, and holiday card photo sessions.”
Find out the best ways to make your skin glow this holiday season and all winter long.
7 survival strategies
Dr. Piaseck’s shared his top seven skincare survival strategies for the festive weeks ahead:
- Take lukewarm showers. Hot water can be irritating to skin and dries it out even faster. Turn down the heat and keep showers as brief as possible.
- Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. Look for products with humectants such as hyaluronic acid, which attract water molecules from the environment. If that isn't enough, use a thick oil-based cream like shea butter.
- Get a humidifier. This is an inexpensive and easy way to add moisture to your home or office environment. Keep it topped off with water for best results.
- Protect your extremities. The skin of the hands and feet have far fewer oil glands than elsewhere on the body, making them much more prone to dryness and cracking. Slather on a thick oil-based cream to hands and feet before bed, and be sure to wear warm gloves and socks whenever you go outside.
- Use oil-based cleansers. These are preferable to soap-based products, as they establish a better moisture barrier and help prevent drying.
- Wear non-abrasive clothing. Wool is a very effective insulator in chilly weather, but it can irritate skin and cause itching. Wear a cotton shirt under wool sweaters or cotton glove liners to protect delicate skin.
- Focus on “superskin foods.” Enjoy a treat now and then (like a piece of dark chocolate), but otherwise eat things that are wholesome and nutrient-rich. Good choices include berries, citrus, nuts and seeds, seafood, soy, fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and extra-virgin olive oil.
Drink plenty of water and use sunscreen
Cassandra Buzis, LME and an instructor with the National Institute of Medical Esthetics, shared her top two tips for beautiful skin in winter:
Drink plenty of water. The skin is the largest organ in the body but it is also the last organ to receive hydration. During the winter months cold winds, forced air heating units and low temperatures can dry out skin and contribute to premature aging. We need to replace this water loss. The recommended amount of water you consume is based on your body weight. In order to successfully hydrate the tissues you need to drink half your body weight in ounces of water. If you don't drink enough water, your body will try to retain it in order to conserve resources. This retention makes your skin look puffy. Water truly is the fountain of youth. It moisturizes your skin, keeps it fresh, soft, glowing and smooth. It’s the best anti-aging treatment around.
Something else that easily gets overlooked during the winter months is the use of sunscreen. Even when the sky is overcast and it's cold outside UV radiation can penetrate through the clouds and damage the skin. In fact the sun can be reflected off the snow up to 80%. This means the skin is getting hit twice with damaging rays. It is recommended that you use a broad spectrum SPF. Broad Spectrum means that you are protected against UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays age the skin by destroying collagen and elastin fibers and UVB rays burn the skin and can lead to dangerous conditions such as skin cancer. I recommend a SPF of a least 30 for daily use and one with a SPF of 30 to 50 if you'll be outdoors. When it comes to sun protection, treat everyday like a sunny day. Your skin and your health will thank you.
Stop the madness
There are ways to counteract the madness that winter brings to your skin, said skin expert Celeste Hilling, who is a skin coach for celebrities including actress Serinda Swan and Olympic gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings and CEO and founder of Skin Authority.
“Fall and winter often bring frigid, dry air; overheated buildings; and reduced exposure to sunlight; all of which can wreak havoc on your skin. When moving from heated homes to heated cars to heated office buildings, our skin experiences less than 4% humidity in the recirculated air. When skin is denied moisture, two things occur. Surface skin becomes dehydrated and chapped and, beneath the surface, sebaceous glands compensate by producing more oil. The oil and debris become trapped in the dry surface layers, which can lead to breakouts and irritation,” Hilling said.
Here are tips to make your skin look better:
Ditch dryness: Take quick, lukewarm showers, exfoliate from head to toe to slough off dead skin cells, and apply lotion as soon as you step out of the shower to seal in moisture. I love body moisturizers that contain anti-inflammatory ingredients such as shea butter, aloe and olive oil.
Embrace exfoliation: Regular facial exfoliation speeds up the cell turnover process, which allows the body to produce moisture-bearing properties like hyaluronic acid. I recommend using a resurfacing agent like glycolic acid. Commonly derived from sugar cane, glycolic acid gently dissolves dead surface skin cells, instead of peeling or scrubbing.
Become a mask maven: Masks play an important role in restoring nutrients and protective antioxidants the help skin fight the effects of overexposure to cold, dry winter air. Try applying a mask of eucalyptus, clay and sulphur once a week to put nutrients and moisture back into your skin while fighting inflammation.
Boost your D: Its estimated that one billion people worldwide are vitamin D deficient; a number that goes up in winter. Unbalanced vitamin D hormone levels contribute to skin conditions such as rosacea, eczema, psoriasis and heavy wrinkling. Apply a topical D Serum daily under sunscreen to give skin a daily dose of D. Internally, salmon, tuna, and mackerel, cheese and mushrooms are rich Vitamin D sources.
Stop hoarding products: Use the change of season to inventory your skin care stash. Forget hoarding 20 products, you only need two or three. In the morning, I suggest a mild gel cleanser, an anti-oxidant such as vitamin C, and a sunscreen moisturizer. Before going to bed, use resurfacing ingredients such as AHAs and retinols in addition to restorative peptides.