Winter takes a toll on your skin. Harsh weather and recycled air in cars and indoors can suck the moisture out of skin leaving you feeling itchy and dry. Luckily, there are simple changes you can make to your skin care regimen and products you can use to help replenish and protect your skin during the cold winter months.
Starting with the Basics
Caring for skin in the winter starts the moment you step in the shower.
“When showers are particularly hot, moisture can leach from the skin causing over-drying,” explains Sznoluch. “So turning down the temperature of the shower can help minimize this.”
From there, it is essential to properly hydrate and moisturize your face and body before you brave the elements.
“Number one, it is very important to regularly use emollients on your skin in the winter,” says Parr. “Within two minutes of showering, skin should be patted dry and liberally moisturized. I would suggest Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream which is fragrance free.”
Protecting Hands and Face
Your face and hands are often the areas that undergo the most abuse in cold weather, which is why it is as important to take particular care of the skin on these areas.
“Moisturize, moisturize and moisturize!” Parr emphasizes. “It’s important to find products that are free of alcohol or drying agents. These things will only dry out your skin more so you really want to look for products containing hydrating ingredients.”
Look for products containing shea butter, jojoba oil, squalene and glycerin, all of which will help add hydration to your skin.
Lips and Scalp are Also Areas Susceptible to Dryness
“Aquaphor ointment or plain Vaseline at night followed by a mild lip balm during the day is quite helpful for the healing of the lips,” says Dr. Karina M. Parr of Dermatology Specialists in Newport News, Va. “For those with dry scalp, Neutrogena T/gel can be helpful to alleviate itching.”
Additionally, make sure to hydrate skin throughout the day, especially if you wash your hands frequently on the job. Parr recommends keeping a hand lotion such as Neutrogena Hand Cream or Eucerin Hand Crème at your desk. For cuticles, Martha Sznoluch, licensed master esthetician, educator and owner of Ohana Skincare & Makeup Studio in Norfolk, Va., suggests applying distilled or cold pressed grape, coconut or olive oil as excellent moisturizers to prevent hangnails and cracking.
Final Layer of Defense
Despite precautions, there may be times where severe windburn or repeated hand washings will result in extremely cracked, painful skin. In this case, Sznoluch proposes her three-level “point of no return” process. Apply lavender milk lotion to the affected area (she suggests Farmaesthetics Nourishing Lavender Milk) followed by a layer of Neosporin and then Aquaphor Healing Ointment. The lavender milk aids in adding hydration to skin, the Neosporin works to heal and the Aquaphor acts as a barrier to the dry air present in cold months.
Skin Care Tips
Do be mindful of skin that is severely itchy or dry as it can indicate more serious issues. In this case, Parr suggests consulting with your health care provider to determine the cause of the discomfort. Bath soaps/cleansers:
- Dove for Sensitive Skin bar soap
- Purpose Bar (pH balanced)
- Cetaphil Bar
- Cetaphil Gentle cleanser
For dry or itchy skin:
Immediately after you finish your bath or shower, pat yourself dry and apply a good moisturizing cream all over. Lotions are mostly water and may provide enough moisture for the summer, but many patients need creams during colder months.
- Cetaphil cream
- CeraVe cream
- Vanicream moisturizing skin cream
Facial cleansers and moisturizers:
- Cetaphil Daily Cleanser
- Neutrogena Foaming face wash
- Cetaphil Daily moisturizing lotion
- Neutrogena Healthy defense daily facial moisturizer SPF 30
- Cheer Free
- All Free and Clear
- Avoid harsh products that strip protective oils from the hands
- For dishwashing, wear gloves if possible
- Hand cream may be applied after washing the hands and can help protect the skin from drying: Neutrogena Norwegian formula fragrance-free hand cream,
- Eucerin Intensive Repair extra-enriched hand cream, or Cetaphil Therapeutic hand cream
- DHS Clear Shampoo Fragrance Free
- Vanicream Free and Clear Shampoo
- For flaky dry scalp, try Neutrogena T-Gel 2 in 1 Daily Control Shampoo
Products suggested here are just a few of the many great cleansers and moisturizers available for purchase over the counter. If you have a favorite cream or lotion that works well for your skin, do not stop using it just because it is not on this list. If you have persistent skin dryness, itching and irritation despite regular use of moisturizer, consult with your health care provider.