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Winter weather can wreak havoc on skin. In areas where winter means temperatures that regularly fall below freezing, exposure to outdoor air can result in transepidermal water loss (in short, water evaporating from the skin). It’s this phenomenon that results in dry skin, which can often be itchy, painful, uncomfortable, and unappealing to both see and feel.
Dermatology experts have spent tremendous amounts of time developing methods and products that can help you keep your skin hydrated and moisturized (and free of pain, itch, and discomfort). These solutions include both simple behavioral changes and regular product usage, and they’re all easy to incorporate into your daily routine. Read on for a roundup of advice on how to properly care for your skin during the cold, dry winter season.
Wear sunscreen. We’re starting with this one because many people associate sunscreen with the summer. Harmful UV rays can impact your skin during the winter, too! Applying sunscreen when you step outside during the winter prevents ultraviolet rays from interacting with your skin, and it’s well known that UV exposure can damage the skin, both in the short term (sunburn) and long term (aging and development of skin cancer).
Use a humidifier. Radiators and other sources of heat expel super dry air to keep your home warm and comfortable. Some dermatologists recommend using a humidifier to help prevent dry skin, especially in your room while you sleep; doing so replaces the moisture in the dry air, helping to keep skin moisturized. If you’re not looking to invest in a machine, placing a heat-safe, fireproof bowl filled with water atop your furnace or radiator works in a pinch.
Cut back on soap. If you frequently use soap and water to wash your hands, you might notice that the soap dries out your hands. Soap is alkaline, whereas skin is acidic, which means that soap use can quickly dry out the skin, and winter weather can accelerate this drying. Soap also cuts away at your skin’s protective layer of oils, exposing it to more agents that can chip away at its moisture levels.
Take cooler showers. Speaking of soap, simple changes to how you take showers can help your skin from cracking and itching during the winter. Just as with soap use, prolonged exposure to hot water and steam can strip away your skin’s protective oils. Consider taking lukewarm — but definitely not cold! — showers instead.
Don’t skimp on the moisturizer. Most, if not all, skincare regimens involve the application of moisturizer. Applying moisturizer twice a day is more vital than ever during the winter. Moisturizer replenishes the hydration that the skin naturally loses to cold, dry air, and it soothes broken, itchy skin like a charm.
Stay hydrated. Many people don’t drink enough water. Although you might associate needing to drink tons of water with the summer, staying properly hydrated is equally vital during cold and hot weather. Sure, you might not sweat as much during the winter, but the reason that cold, dry air cracks your skin is due to transepidermal water loss, as we mentioned earlier. Keeping yourself hydrated can thus be vital for fighting dry skin.
What are some skincare tips that get you through winter? Let us know in the comments!