Winter Skin Care

Skin-CareWinter can be especially hard on skin. Indoor heat, icy winds, moisture and changes in temperature can create stressful conditions for exposed areas of skin. Over the winter months, skin can sustain considerable damage that can contribute to aging and wrinkling. Taking care of your skin can reduce these harmful effects and keep it looking glowing and healthy.

Humidity
Many people have indoor heating systems that dry out the air in homes. This dry condition can lead to respiratory problems, headaches and skin that is so dry it may even crack. Though the image of the roaring fire in the fireplace and snowflakes falling outside the window may be the romanticized image of a cozy home in winter, skin can sustain serious damage from the damaging effects of indoor heat. The cold air that seeps into the house from the outside is lower in humidity than summer air. When you turn up the heat, you further dry the moisture from the air until it becomes so dry that it begins to affect mucous membranes, hair and skin. Add more moisture to indoor air with a humidifier. A good level of humidity for indoor air is 30 to 50 percent. Seal cracks around windows and door to prevent cold air from entering. You will find you sleep better at night and breathe better during the day. If you don’t have a humidifier, place bowls of water around the house to add moisture to the air. Keep these filled throughout the day as the water evaporates.

Moisturizing
A moisturizer can help to counteract the detrimental effects of winter cold, winds and dry indoor air. The store shelves are full of emollients and ointments that can help relieve dryness. Thicker creams may be more effective for winter skin than thinner lotions. An oil-based moisturizer will create a layer on the surface that helps to seal moisture into the skin. However, some of these moisturizers may be too thick and may clog pores, causing breakouts. You may need to try a number of different moisturizers to find one that’s right for your skin. Use the moisturizer regularly in the morning and evening to prevent dry winter skin. The moisturizer should be applied within three minutes after washing the skin with soap and water to retain the oils within the surface. Beware of moisturizers than contain harsh ingredients that can increase dryness and irritation. Lip balm will help to keep dry, chapped lips moist and supple. Hands take a particular beating during the winter months. Ensure that you wear gloves when outdoors and wear latex gloves when cleaning. Use hand lotion frequently in the winter months.

Nutrition
Your skin reacts to the foods you eat just as the rest of your body does. Ensure that you are eating a healthy diet, rich in vitamins and minerals. Foods that contain antioxidants like vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E will help prevent damage done by free radicals. Colorful fruits and vegetables provide these antioxidants in your diet. Vitamin D can support skin health, along with beta-carotene. Lycopene, contained in tomatoes, also provides these benefits. Omege-3 fatty acids in fish, nuts and olive oil are also good nutrients for healthy skin. Taking supplements to provide additional nutritional support for your skin can also be helpful.

Exfoliation
Dry winter skin can leave a layer of dead skin cells on the surface of your face that gives you a dull and grayish look. You can remove these dead cells by using an exfoliating scrub on face, neck and other exposed parts of the body to brighten the appearance of your skin. These exfoliants may contain walnut shells, almond shells or oatmeal to remove dead cells from the surface. A chemical peel can help to remove dead skin cells and reveal a fresh layer of new facial skin. This procedure can help to reduce the look of wrinkles and give you a glowing, younger appearance.

Toning
Using a toner can help to brighten up dry winter skin. Toners can increase circulation, restore pH balance and remove residues from soaps and other products. They can also reduce the look of enlarged pores and brighten the complexion. Take care to avoid toners with more than 10 percent alcohol, which can dry skin further. A moisturizing toner can be the best choice for winter dry skin.

Sun Damage
Though most people don’t think about wearing sunscreen during the winter months, the ultraviolet rays can do as much damage as in summer. Bright winter sunlight and glare against the snow can speed up the aging process on the skin’s surface. It can also do damage at the cellular level, a process that can lead to skin cancer. Wear a sunscreen daily or use a foundation product that contains at least a 30 SPF.

Bathing
Another way to protect your skin against winter dryness and damage is to avoid bathing in very hot water. A shower removes less vital oil from your skin than a hot bath. If you must bathe, make sure the water is lukewarm instead of hot. Use a mild cleanser without harsh ingredients. You can reduce dryness and itching by adding baking soda or oatmeal to your bath. Keep the bathing time short to prevent the removal of oils that nourish skin. Close the bathroom door to keep humidity in the room while you bath to avoid losing moisture from the skin. Pat your skin dry gently without rubbing the surface.

Getting Help For Damaged Skin
If these common measures do not help with dryness, itching and cracking of your skin, visit a dermatologist for an accurate assessment of your problem. The dermatologist can prescribe medications to help with serious problems associated with dry, winter skin. Dermatologists often do a number of procedures that can reverse the damage from winter dry skin, such as chemical peels or Botox injection.

Now you should know everything you need to rejuvenate your skin any time of the year.

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