Winter Skin Care
Winter can be tough on skin. Cold temperatures, low humidity and dry indoor heating combine to rob the skin of moisture, leaving it dry and flaky, said Sarah Myers, M.D., dermatologist at Duke University Medical Center, who offers the following tips for winter skin care.
-- Shorten baths or showers -- Long, hot baths can eventually strip the skin of lipids, or moisturizing fats. Frequent long showers or baths do not add moisture but take away protection.
-- Use moisturizer -- Choose soap or cleanser with oils and emollients. After bathing, pat dry, then replenish with an overall body moisturizer. Oils can also be added to bath water, which can penetrate and nourish the skin. But they can also make the tub slippery, so be especially careful getting out.
-- Apply toners and astringents sparingly – These are liquids used after cleaning, just before applying a moisturizer. Because they are typically alcohol-based, they can dry the skin. Look for products with low alcohol content.
-- Don't forget the sunscreen – Many products are a combination of sunscreen and moisturizer. Usually the recommended products have an SPF of 15. Most people are in and out during the day, and casual sun exposure adds up. This is one of the best daily products people can use.
-- Rejuvenate skin – Many people use topical night creams and other cosmetic products containing retinoids. These can help reduce facial lines, wrinkles and age spots. Look for products containing mineral oil or other moisturizing agents. Products containing higher levels of these ingredients are available only by prescription.
-- Control environmental factors – Humidifying the environment can help replenish moisture. Consider a humidifier in your bedroom at night, when you're spending most of your time there. Reduce exposure to cigar and cigarette smoke, which can speed the skin's aging process.
-- Stimulate and exfoliate – Rubbing the skin's surface daily with a scrub or washcloth stimulates the skin and removes dead cells, which can clog the pores. However, the process can strip some of the lipids that are integral to keeping your skin moist, especially during the winter, if overdone.