It’s still pretty chilly outside, and that means your skin is extra prone to dryness. But you don’t have to spend wintertime uncomfortable in your own itchy skin. Equipped with these tips from dermatologists Tina Alster, Anne Chapas and Anthony Rossi, you can have skin that’s soft as your favorite pajamas all winter long.
Turn Down the Heat
We know it’s tempting — especially when it’s freezing outside — but scalding showers tend to dry out the skin. That’s because hot water strips your skin of the natural oils that ordinarily lock in moisture. So if you look like a freshly-boiled lobster when you hop out of the shower, turn that heat down. “It’s also best to avoid activities, like scrubbing, that remove excess oil from the skin,” Alster explains. In other words, take it easy when exfoliating if you notice your skin becoming increasingly dry.
Invest in a Humidifier
Lower humidity during the winter means the water in your skin evaporates quicker, which gives you that dry and flaky feeling. Unfortunately, central heating in your home or apartment can just exacerbate that dryness. But there’s a simple compromise: “If you’re constantly heating your house, it may be beneficial to purchase a humidifier,” Rossi suggests. “That’s because the heat can really dry out your skin, but using a humidifier will combat this.”
Moisturize Like a (Very Moist) Madman
This one might sound obvious, but you may need to tweak your moisturizing routine to account for that extra wintertime dryness. “It’s key to pat the skin dry after washing, leaving a small amount of water on the skin,” Rossi explains. “Then, place the moisturizer on top of the water to lock it into the skin.” He adds that people with really dry skin or eczema should attempt the soak and smear technique, which is the most thorough moisturizing method out there: Spend 20 minutes soaking in the bath tub, then smear moisturizer over the affected area while it’s still completely wet.
Chapas also recommends opting for moisturizers that have extra-moisturizing ingredients: “Look for something that has moisturizing ingredients such as shea butter, lanolin, high hyaluronic acid and dimethicone,” she says. Moisturizers containing these ingredients are sure to help keep your skin soft and smooth, no matter how dry the winter weather is.
Carry Lip Balm Everywhere
Chapped lips are a staple of winter weather, but they don’t have to be. Occasionally applying lip balm is a great way to treat and prevent the dryness by adding back any precious moisture you’ve lost, and forming a protective barrier against the chill. If you’re going to be outdoors, using lip balm with some sunscreen in it is also a good idea. Speaking of sunscreen…
Don’t Forget the Sunscreen
If it’s cold but bright, “It’s important to always wear sunscreen, especially when you’re in snowy weather — that’s because UV rays reflecting off the snow can be substantial,” Rossi emphasizes. For ultimate protection, it’s important that the product you choose has an SPF of at least 15 and that you re-apply liberally every two hours spent under the sun.
Now that your skin is soft as a baby’s thigh, enjoy wintertime as it’s meant to be enjoyed — sitting forlornly indoors while gaining 30 pounds in just one season.