Itching, scaly, wrinkly, cracking, flaky, dry skin – oh the joys of winter. You need extra help, trust me, your summer moisturizer won’t cut it. You need to inspire your skin to grab onto moisture and keep it in.
What causes dry skin?
There are many factors that contribute to winter dry skin. Some medications like those for high blood pressure, allergies, high cholesterol, acne, and certain skin diseases can be the culprit, but dry skin in winter months is very common because of cold temperatures and low humidity. It’s also the time of year when central heaters are being used constantly blowing drying air into your poor parched pores. If you over-wash with harsh or heavily perfumed soaps you may be removing natural skin oils and water that your skin needs. So we’ll start there.
1. Soapless cleanser
I love SkinCeuticals Gentle Cleanser for winter as it’s mild and creamy and calms my rosacea which flares up in the cold months. You want to look for a soapless cleanser which contains less acid and more moisturizing ingredients. Forgo that stripped, squeaky clean feeling for a few months, even you have oily skin, as a soapless cleanser with a low PH will stop your skin from drying out making your oil glands go into overdrive. Whatever you do, don’t get lazy and just wash your face in the shower with a bar of soap! Try to keep that shower short and apply your moisturizers within 3 minutes of bathing to try and hold onto that water on your skin.
Severely dry skin
Your skin is made of fats and proteins which help prevent skin dehydration. When we become deficient in these, the skin’s moisture evaporates more easily. If your skin is severely dry you may need to resort to products that don’t flow out of the jar such as Shea Butter or Aquaphor. If you start as the season begins, before your skin loses too much moisture, you will have a better chance of keeping it plump and hydrated.
Start with an exfoliant to remove some of those dead skin cells which will help whatever products you use, to absorb more efficiently. You can go for a chemical peel or a microdermabrasion at a clinic or salon or purchase an at-home exfoliant such as, Skin Medica’s AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser, ZO Medical Duo-Action Scrub , or Vivier’s Vitamin C Scrub which has Biodegradable Beads that gently create a scrubbing effect while lifting impurities and infusing the skin with powerful antioxidants and extracts such as Vitamin C, Witch Hazel Extract and Cucumber Extract. Be careful with using just any scrub as many of them are too harsh and can tear and scratch the epidermis. ZO Skin Health has a glycolic and lactic acid complex that will exfoliate and soothe with aloe, green tea, and chamomile called Exfoliation Accelerator
3. Replace Hyaluronic Acid
Hyaluronic acid is found naturally throughout the body and it plays an important role in maintaining the skin’s moisture. It has a short lifecycle in the skin, with 30%-50% degrading every 24 hours. To help this situation, apply to a wet face, a hyaluronic acid serum like HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator from SkinMedica which supports the skin’s natural ability to replenish its own hyaluronic acid. SkinCeuticals’ H.A. Intensifier will also amplify the skin’s hyaluronic acid levels as well as Vivier’s HYDRAgel Advanced B5+. Hydrating B5 Masque is a product I use more than once a week in the winter as I really need its intense hydration. In fact, I put it on, massage it in and leave it on all night.
Now it’s time to add a moisturizer that also provides some protection from the environment. We’re looking for a thick, heavier cream than you are probably used to. TNS Ceramide Treatment Cream which hydrates and helps restore your skins natural barrier. Epidermal Repair from SkinCeuticals is a therapeutic treatment which relieves the appearance of redness and soothes sensitive skin a well as supports skin’s barrier function. I often use Vivier’s Ultra Hydrating Mask as a moisturizer first and then I put on a barrier cream.
Now I know because it’s winter, you are thinking you don’t need sunblock, sooo wrong. Not only do you still need it to protect you from UVA and UVB rays but the right one will provide you with a nice occlusion (seal) to protect you and all your other products.
One of my personal faves is ZO’s Smart Tone Broad Spectrum SPF 50. It’s water and perspiration resistant (in case you get caught in the rain or workout) this sunscreen delivers superior protection during outdoor activities while hydrating the skin to prevent dryness. I also like Total Defense + Repair Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 34 by SkinMedica.
Sunscreen choice is very personal, so find one you love so you’ll use it faithfully all year.
by M. Wally
Age is a state of mind. Aging is a treatable condition.