By Meaghan Lehrer
Ah, winter. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year— for everything but your skin. Sure, the holidays are lovely and usually filled with glee. Most people have some time off to travel and visit loved ones they don’t regularly get to see, and we ring in the new year with every hope of actually honoring our resolutions for longer than just the month of January. All the while, we’re itching our legs and arms, battling the dry patches on our faces, and dreading washing our hands that suddenly look like they’ve never seen a tub of cream before.
The dry winter climate can wreak havoc on your skin, drying it out and leaving it feeling raw and irritated. But some easy changes to your everyday routine can make all the difference, and they may not be particularly obvious. You’d be surprised at how much of your skin’s hydration and health depends on factors that have nothing to do with slathering cream all over your body and hoping for the best.
Whether you fall victim to the dry winter months or struggle with dry skin all year long, these tips will help keep your skin healthy and hydrated even during those extreme winter months.
Stop Taking Long, Hot Showers
Okay, we get it— a long, hot shower after walking home in the bitter winter climate sounds like the best self-care in the world when your shivering and can’t feel your toes. It may feel amazing, but a hot shower does way more harm than good.
A hot shower can worsen any skin condition where the skin already has a weakened barrier. And even if you don’t have any sort of struggles with chronic skin issues, a hot shower will still strip your skin of sebum, the healthy fats and oils necessary for skin health, and dehydrate your skin. Save your skin (and, you know, the environment) by limiting your showers to 5-10 minutes and setting the temperature to lukewarm. While that probably doesn’t sound very exciting, your skin will thank you.
Swap To A Gentle, Fragrance-Free Cleanser
When you see “fragrance” or “parfum” in the ingredients list on the back of your cleanser, drop it and run (or just put it back on the shelf, because you’re not two years old. But if you are, congrats on learning how to read before you can speak full sentences and for caring about your skin! It’s never too early to practice good skincare!).
There really is no need for fragrance in skincare or cosmetics (even your shampoo and other hair products) because the reality is all forms of fragrance are irritating. The ingredient “fragrance” is sort of a catch-all in the skincare and cosmetics world. It can contain any combination of hundreds of different chemicals, and there’s no way to know which ones because the company doesn’t have to disclose that info. As lovely as they may smell, fragrances tend to cause inflammation and damage the inner layers of your skin. And if we’re being honest, that fragrance doesn’t even cling to your face as much as you might hope it will. So you’re not getting anything out of it aside from a pleasant smell for a few moments while you’re washing your face. You’re just making your skin angry.
Additionally, your skin shouldn’t feel tight after you wash it. A gentle cleanser containing hyaluronic acid or ceramides will not only make your skin nice and clean, but it will also protect your skin’s barrier while locking moisture in.
Swap Up Your Skin-Care Regimen
Summer is all about keeping your skin hydrated with light moisturizers and lotions. You’re sweating more, your skin is producing more oil, and you just don’t need any heavy creams. But during the winter months, cream-based cleansers and hydrating serums like Revitol Hydrating Serum are your BFFs.
You can also lighten up on toners that contain alcohol as they can further dry out and irritate your skin. Use a rich moisturizer at night for your face, and don’t forget to keep your lips hydrated as well. The skin on your lips is extremely thin and sensitive, and it needs to be shown extra love during winter.
Don’t Forget: You Still Need Sunscreen
We usually correlate sunscreen with summer, but UV rays can damage your skin all year round (a truly comforting fact, eh?). On bright winter days, the snow reflects the sun’s rays up to 80%. So whether you’re playing in the snow or just walking around outside, your risk of UV exposure is increased. Furthermore, even on cloudy days, the sun’s harmful UV rays can permeate the clouds and still cause damage. You need to be applying sunscreen every single day that you’re outside. Before you go outside, apply a moisturizing, broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher to all exposed areas of your body.
Wear Nonirritating Fabrics And Change Right Away If They Get Wet
It’s a bit odd that many of the clothing and accessories designed for winter are harsh and irritating, but they are! Wool scarves might be super cute and feel warm on your neck, but wool can aggravate dry skin. Any sort of heavy, rough clothing can cause dry skin to get irritated and itchy. Opt for light layers made from soft, breathable materials directly on your skin. Then, you can layer up with the heavier sweaters. Just be sure they aren’t rubbing against exposed skin.
If you live somewhere that snows or pours down freezing cold rain, be sure to change out of your clothes as soon as you can if they get wet. Wearing wet clothes and shoes will further irritate your skin and potentially dry it out.
Eat Right and Stay Hydrated
The right foods can contribute to skin health. Salmon, mackerel, and other fatty fish that contain omega-3 or omega-6 fatty acids are beneficial to your skin. Concentrate on a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables and incorporate nuts, seeds, and beans. On the flipside, steer clear of a diet high in processed or refined sugars and unhealthy fats as these will have a negative effect on your skin.
And, as you should be doing every day regardless of the weather, stay hydrated and drink plenty of water. Your entire body— from your organs to your skin— loves water.
Discover The Magic Of A Humidifier
People who struggle with sinus and allergy issues are probably already aware of how helpful a humidifier is. Humidifiers add moisture to the air, preventing dryness that can cause irritation to your skin, nose, throat, and lips. It also eases the symptoms caused by the flu and the common cold, and since both of those can be somewhat easy to catch during the winter months, having a humidifier around is just a good idea in general.
Dry skin is a pain in more ways than one, but the good news is that it’s manageable. It may take a smidge more effort on your part to ensure your skin stays healthy and hydrated during winter, but believe us, the results are worth any additional work. You already shower, wash your face, and use a moisturizer already (if you aren’t, then we’ve got a bone to pick with you). Most of this advice merely involves switching up your products and being a bit more mindful of how your daily routine can negatively impact your skin.
Do you have dry skin that feels impossible to deal with during winter? Which of these tips has helped you the most in mediating the effects of a colder climate? Let us know your skincare questions, tips, and personal wins in the comments below.