Winter’s got a lot going for it: snowy landscapes, holiday cheer, and an excuse to be liberal with the hot cocoa. Unfortunately, it isn’t all sugarplums and candy canes this time of year. Dry winter weather can do a number on our skin, causing redness, irritation, flaking, and dryness. Luckily, we’ve tracked down a few simple remedies to give your skin a fighting chance this season.
1. Sun protection still applies
It might come as a surprise to some, but sunscreen is just as essential in winter as in summer. Despite the cold weather, UVA and UVB rays are still going strong, and their effect can even be magnified when reflecting off snow and ice. Apply moisturizer with SPF or a thin layer of high SPF sunscreen to keep skin dewy all season long.
2. Give yourself a hand
The body parts that get the most exposure to drying winter air are those that are most at risk. This means your head and your hands. Keep hands supple and safe by wearing leather or tightly woven gloves. For extra protection, apply a thin layer of moisturizer to your hands before slipping on your mitts. If your skin is particularly sensitive, use a gentle dermatological soap (like Cetaphil).
3. Keep water intake up
Just like sun protection, staying hydrated is crucial year-round. While summer’s high temperatures and heavy sun exposure seem like obvious dehydrators, winter’s dry, cold air can be just as intense on your body. Carry a water bottle with you, and be sure to consume at least 2 litres of water daily. Your skin will thank you.
4. Keep toes-ty
Feet need to breathe, and keeping your feet trapped in shoes or socks all winter can be hard on your hooves. Exfoliate feet once or twice a week to slough off dead skin cells that can accumulate on tightly swaddled toes, and apply a layer of moisturizer to prevent cracks, dryness, and irritation.
5. Invest in seasonal skincare
Like your clothing, your skincare should be season-appropriate. If your skin gets easily irritated in the winter or you’re experiencing dry patches, ditch all peels, harsh scrubs, and alcohol-based toners in favour of mild cleansers, moisturizing face masks, and rich creams. Moisturizers enriched with rose oil are particularly good for protecting skin from dry winter weather.
6. Avoid sudden or intense temperature changes
Precipitous temperature changes, like when you step into an overheated house after coming in from the cold, can cause veins to dilate and constrict quickly, which can lead to skin irritation and broken capillaries. Same goes for hot baths, which can strip your skin of its natural oils, leaving it prone to dryness. Keep baths and ambient temperatures warm—not hot—to avoid skin woes this winter.
7. Try body oil
If whole body dryness is a seasonal issue for you, pick up a bottle of body oil. These ultra concentrated natural moisturizers create an incredibly effective barrier between your skin and dry winter air. Apply it fresh out of the shower to lock moisture in. And don’t worry, while body oil might sound like a grease-fest, all you need is a thin layer which will quickly be absorbed by your skin. In fact, you might already have just what you need in your kitchen: unrefined coconut oil is a fantastic, mouthwatering moisturizer.
8. Love your lips
Chapped winter lips aren’t uncommon this time of year. This season, smooch and smile with ease by using a gentle exfoliator or damp washcloth to get rid of dead skin before applying an emollient lip balm. Look for those with ingredients like beeswax, glycerin, lanolin, cocoa butter, and sunscreen, while avoiding ones with menthol, alcohol, and salicylic acid, which can irritate lips in cold weather.