Beauty Advice: Winter Skin Guidelines and Tips

Dr. Kaplan is THE dermatologist to the stars, who happens to have his own, pretty pricey, skincare line.  While it might be a bit of a stretch to spend $50 on his eye cream, you can use his tips for getting rid of the ash and keeping skin glowing and gorgeous in winter months.

Winter Skin Care Tips

1. Use a humidifier.  Air inside your home becomes very dry in winter, especially if your windows are closed and the heat is on.  A humidifier will replace moisture in the air.  If you do not have a humidifier, using a few open pans throughout the house, especially near any radiators, will also work.  Keep indoor air moisture levels at 40 to 50 percent.  A good rule to remember is if your turn up the heat, turn on the humidifier.

2.  Switch your moisturizer from lotions to thicker creams or ointments and use them often .  Moisturizers protect your skin from the elements. Think of moisturizers as a daily barrier between your skin and the air. Ointments form a better protective layer on the skin, and seal in moisture.  Avoid ointments in areas where you tend to break out.  Even if you have oily skin, you still may need a moisturizer in the winter.  Use mild soaps, and avoid deodorant, fragrances, antibacterial or abrasive soaps, as these are more drying for your skin.

3.  Remember to use Sun Protection.  Even though it is cold, your skin is still vulnerable to damage from the suns UV rays.

    A.  Don’t forget your sunscreen.  Use a thick layer of moisturizing broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 on any part of your skin that is exposed to the elements.  This will serve two purposes.  It will protect your skin from chafing and drying, and protect against the winter sun, which can still cause sun damage and burns.  Some of the most severe sunburns occur while skiing, since snow reflects sunlight and UV rays.

    B.  Use Sunglasses.  Snow reflects sunlight and causes glare.  Sunglasses protect your eyes against sun damage, and prevent squinting, which worsens creases. Polarized lenses are best for full UVA/UVB protection.

    C.  Use a lip balm that also has SPF 15.  This will protect against chapped lips, as well as sun damage. I always recommend either using a lipstick with SPF, or applying a lip balm with SPF before applying lip gloss or lipstick. You CAN get skin cancer on the lips.

4.  Review your skin care regimen.  If you are using products with tretinoin, such as Retin-A or Renova, or are using alpha-hydroxy acids or glycolic acids, you may want to use these less frequently, as they may cause your skin to exfoliate and become more sensitive and dry.  If you are using Retin-A gel, switch to the cream.  Avoid microdermabrasions and abrasive skin treatments, as these exfoliate the top layer of the skin, and leave the new layer of skin unprotected to the harsh elements.  Use toners and astringents sparingly, as these are usually alcohol-based, and can dry the skin. Try to use non-alcohol based toners with aloe or chamomile. Use night creams that contain squalane, mineral oil or other moisturizing agents.  This is good for both men and women.

5.  Don’t take long hot showers.  Frequent long hot showers remove the oils from your skin, making it dry and itchy.  It is like licking your lips- the more you lick them the dryer they get.  Instead, take luke-warm showers for less than 10 minutes.  Pat (do not rub!) your skin until it is just moist, and put on an emollient cream on to seal in the moisture in your skin.  This will decrease dryness and itch. Add oils to your bath water if you choose to take baths, as this will replenish the oils in your skin.

6.  Care for any cracks or fissures in your skin.  Severely dry skin is more likely to split and bleed.  It is also less effective against infection.  Use petroleum jelly or aquaphor on any areas of abraded or split skin.

7.  Dress Smart.  Wear loose-fitting cotton fabrics closest to your skin.  Remove wet clothes and socks immediately. These can irritate the skin.

8.  Pay special attention to your hands and feet.  With constant use and exposure, your hands always need attention, but even more so in winter. After washing your hands, immediately put on hand cream to seal in moisture.  If your hands get severely dry during the winter months, try covering them with a thin layer of Vaseline or Aquaphor before bed, and cover them with light cotton gloves. While you sleep, the gloves will help the Vaseline penetrate your dry skin, and retaining the moisture.  You can do the same thing with dry cracks on your feet, by using Vaseline, and wearing socks overnight to seal in moisture.