Winter takes its special toll on your skin, which may still be recuperating from the fiery assaults of summertime. Stressed from long hot moisture-barren days, the drying effects of chlorine water, too much time outdoors in the sizzling summer sun, and the dehydrating effects of air conditioning, leaves your skin ready to hibernate for the winter. Instead of getting a much deserved rest and rejuvenation, winter works our skin overtime as it prepares for the demanding task of defending itself against the woes of winter weather. The chilling cold in the air from the sudden change of seasons can leave your skin
chapped and devastatingly dry. Our winter atmosphere is notorious for scarcity of humidity, compounded by indoor heating which is winter’s most vicious skin-drying scoundrel.
Our skin is made up of different layers. The outer epithelial layer our epidermis is the most likely target of our environment as the harsh elements can hardly reach the dermal layer that lies below. The epidermis constantly peels off and rejuvenates. But during this course of molting the skin looks dry and you tend to lose the natural glow that you were so proud of. The peeling off is more likely to occur during the winter months as the winds are dry and squeeze out the natural oily texture of the skin. Again there are many who are allergic to the cold environment. They suffer from painful allergic manifestations that have a detrimental effect on the skin and can even lead to infections. They fail to acclimatize with the sudden change in the climate and the greatest effect is felt on the skin. Skin happens to be the reflection of how you are affected by changes in your environment.
Winter often spells disaster for your skin. It looks rough and chapped, feels tight and drawn. What should be one of your greatest assets becomes one of your biggest beauty problems. You have to take extra care for your skin during this season and with our tips you will find that having a beautiful skin is not that difficult after all.
The most important part of winter skin-care is keeping the whole body hydrated. Drink approximately 64 ounces or more of water daily. Not only does this help hydrate your skin to prevent dryness and itching, but there are other health benefits too numerous too mention here. (You’ve probably heard them dozens of times anyway…)Limit the amount of caffeine and alcohol you intake; these act as diuretics releasing fluid from the body. Using a moisturizer on the face is important, but so is having the proper sun protection. Many moisturizers have ratings between 8 and 15 SPF. If the sun is shining on the snow, you may need even more protection. It’s also a good idea to exfoliate once a week to get rid of flaky skin. Use a type of scrub that’s made for your skin type – and always remember to be gentle. With the heat on and the windows closed, the air inside can become very dry in the winter, making the dryness and itching of eczema even worse. Use a humidifier to place moisture in the air. If you don’t want to invest in an expensive humidifying system, smaller, relatively inexpensive humidifiers can be obtained at a local drug store. Placing two or three of these around your home will help to humidify the dry air. This can keep skin from drying and becoming cracked and itchy.
The more oil a moisturizer contains the more effectively it protects against moisture loss. Moisturizers that come in ointment form contain the most oil because an ointment, by definition, consists of 80% oil and 20% water. This water-in-oil emulsion forms a protective layer on the skin and makes it more ‘moisturizing’ than creams and lotions. Ointments are especially beneficial when humidity is low. Ointments should not be used on areas of the body that tend to get hot and sweaty.
Apply a heavy layer of moisturizing broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher to the face, hands and any other skin that may be exposed. This will act as a barrier to help protect against the harsh elements and is especially important if you will be outside for any length of time. Sunscreen is important in winter as the sun’s reflective powers are great year round—17% on the sand and 80% on the snow. Today, several products are available that combine oily, moisturizing cream with sunscreen. If you are unsure of which product to use, ask a dermatologist. Protecting hands from the cold air and low humidity plays an important role in preventing flare-ups. Make sure the gloves are made from material that does not irritate your skin. Some patients find that wearing a cotton mitten next to the skin and a woolen mitten over the cotton one, keeps hands warm and dry.
The most common triggers of the scratch/itch cycle are sweating and overheating. Wearing layers allows you to remove clothing as needed to prevent overheating. Be sure to wear loose-fitting cotton fabrics next to your skin. Avoid exposing skin to harsh winter elements such as freezing temperatures and drying cold winds. Dress warmly, in layers, and wear a hat, scarf and gloves when you go out in cold weather. Wear a natural lip balm to protect your lips. A light layer of ghee (clarified butter) can also work as natural lip protection.
Sealing the skin with products that contain petroleum-based products can trap moisture next to your skin and give the feeling of protection. But since the skin excretes as well we interfere with its ability to eliminate toxins through the pores. Those trapped toxins only cause more scaling, flaking and thickening which will keep it drier than ever. The skin is then also sealed against absorbing any natural moisture that may be in the air. Use cosmetics and moisturizers that contain jojoba oil instead of petroleum-based products. This botanical most closely resembles your skin’s own natural oil and replenishes lost oils without clogging pores or blemishing skin.