Winter Skin Care
Jennifer: Dr. Anne, how do I take care of my skin in the winter months? This time of year my skin gets dry and chapped.
Dr. White: Jennifer, the dry air of winter, both indoors and outside, can make it difficult to keep skin from getting dry, chapped, and itchy. Harsh wind, low humidity, and indoor heating are common factors that sap moisture from the skin. This time of year, it's especially important to protect your skin, keeping it healthy, moisturized, and youthful. The following tips will help.
- Cleansing And Bathing
There is a common misconception that skin needs to be "squeaky clean." People often spend too much time as well as use too irritating soaps while bathing. Skin is more healthy when all of the natural oils are not stripped by too aggressive or too frequent bathing regimens. Below are some suggestions to treat your skin kindly while at the same time effectively bathing.
- Use recommended non-soap based cleansers such as Biomedic Purifying Cleanser, MD Forte Cleanser, Neo Cleanse gentle Cleanser, Revaleskin Cleanser, or Skin TX cleanser available for sale at Carolina Laser and Cosmetic Center, or over the counter CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser, Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser, or Aquanil Cleansing Lotion. Soaps are never used on the face, only cleansers.
- Gently apply the cleanser with your hands. Never "bath poufs." These can harbor bacteria and fungi which are then ground into the skin with every use. Your skin does not need to be mechanically exfoliated by rigorously scrubbing. The more gentle you are with your skin, the healthier it will be.
If you don’t normally apply a moisturizer to your skin, now may be the time to get in the habit. If you use a moisturizer but find that you skin is still dry and cracked, you may benefit from applying the moisturizer more frequently. You may also want to change to a more effective moisturizer. In general, ointments are more moisturizing than creams, and creams are more moisturizing than lotions.
- Ointments: Vaseline Petroleum Jelly, Aquaphor
- Creams: SkinMedica Ultrasheer and Skin Medica Dermal Repair are the best and are available for sale at Carolina Laser and Cosmetic center. Over the counter products include CeraVe Moisturizing Cream, Original Eucerin Cream, Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream, Vaseline Cream, Eutra/Elta Neutrogena Hand Cream
- Lotions: CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion, Vaseline Intensive Care, Lubriderm, Curel
Before going outside, apply a heavy layer of moisturizer to your face, hands, and any other exposed area.
Also remember to moisturize your skin immediately after bathing, ideally within three minutes. Pat-dry your skin to keep water in, and then apply moisturizer immediately to prevent water evaporation.
- Avoid Hot Showers
A hot shower or bath can be tempting during the cold winter months, but the hot water can break down the skin's natural moisturizing lipids, which keep moisture in and protect skin against drying conditions. Skip the hot shower in favor of a shorter, warm one; afterward, pat skin dry and apply one of the lotions listed above right away.
- Use A Humidifier
Indoor central heating, space heaters, and other methods to keep us warm during the winter can make the air very dry, robbing your skin and sinuses of moisture. Even an inexpensive humidifier from the drug store (one placed in each room of the home) can make a big difference and restore important moisture to the air.
- Protect Your Hands
Remember to keep the skin on your hands protected as well. Apply lotions and ointments to your hands frequently, especially after handwashing. Wear gloves to protect them from the cold, dry air, but avoid leaving wet gloves on for very long.
- Dress In Layers
Excessive sweating and overheating is a common trigger of winter itch. Wearing layers of clothing allows you to add or remove items to keep your body heat in a comfortable range. Cotton fabrics worn next to your skin are not as effective for staying warm, but are gentler on the skin.
- Examine Your Skin Care Products
Take inventory of the products in your skin-care routine.
- Products that contain tretinoin may make the skin more susceptible to sunburn.
- If any of your skin products contain strong sloughing agents (such as alpha-hydroxy acids), you may want to switch to a gentler product to avoid exacerbating dry skin during wintertime (but do exfoliate gently, to increase how much moisturizer your skin will absorb).
- Winter is also a good time to avoid harsh chemical peels and masks, as well as alcohol-based products. Switch to mild cleansers, alcohol-free toners, and hydrating masks.
- Don't Forget About Sun Protection
The sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays can be just as damaging during the winter months as they are during hotter weather, so remember to minimize your skin's sun exposure. Doing so is easier in the winter, because cold-weather clothing generally covers up most skin, but don't forget to apply sunscreen to the face or use cosmetics that contain a sunscreen. SPF 15 should be the minimum amount of protection, but choose a higher SPF for outdoor sports like snowboarding or skiing, where the sun reflects off the white surface of the snow. The sunscreen must be full spectrum UVA/UVB and cover for the narrow spectrum between UVA and UVB. Anthelios makes the best product and we have it for sale at Carolina Laser and Cosmetic Center. Be sure to cover your lips with a lip balm or lipstick that contains sunscreen. If your hands are exposed, cover them with a moisturizing sunscreen as well.
Products are available for sale at our office or at the online store at www.CarolinaLaser.com. Go to the home page and click on Shop at the top of the page on the right. If you aren’t sure which skin products would be best for your skin type, call us today to schedule an appointment for your $50.00 skin care consultation.