When it starts to get cold outside it is always your skin that is the first to notice. Chilly temperatures and dry air take a toll on your skin, depleting its moisture and making it feel tight. The good news is that there are ways to improve your condition or prevent it altogether with pre-season care. Below, you’ll find the top 10 ways to protect your skin against the harsh forces of winter.
1. Say Yes to Sunscreen
SPF isn’t just for summer. In fact, the winter sun combined with snow glare can be just as damaging to your skin as a day spent on the beach. Just as you would when it’s warm, apply broad-spectrum sunscreen to your hands, face, and any other exposed patches of skin 30 minutes before you go outside. Reapply if you’re outside for an extended period of time.
2. Sanitize Sans Soap
Although colds and germs are at their peak in colder months, repeatedly washing your hands can be extremely drying. In fact, some experts suggest using soap-free cleansers and alcohol-free sanitizing gels instead of traditional soap and water. Regardless of the method you choose, though, always follow up with a dollop of hand lotion to restore any depleted moisture.
3. Breathe It In
Cold winter air isn’t the only culprit when it comes to drying your skin: indoor heating depletes moisture, too. Placing small humidifiers throughout your home can help keep your skin quenched and healthy throughout the winter months.
4. Show the Glove
A pair of cotton gloves can work wonders for dry hands. Apply a layer of moisturizer and slip on a pair—the fabric helps lotions and creams soak in. Skin feels softer in as little as an hour, and if you put on lotion gloves overnight, you’ll see even better results. Gloves should also be worn outside to help your hands retain as much moisture as possible.
5. Toast to Hydration
It’s important to hydrate over the summer because the sun draws so much moisture from the skin. But it’s equally as important when it’s cold to keep yourself hydrated. Added bonus: drinking lots of water keeps you healthy on the inside, too.
6. Treat Your Feet
Hands get plenty of attention in the winter, as they’re often visibly dry and cracked. You would be remiss, however, to ignore your feet, which often are equally as affected by cold weather. At night, take a pumice stone to the soles of your feet to remove dead skin. Then, slather on a thick moisturizing cream. Finish it off by covering your tootsies in socks to retain the moisture overnight.
7. Watch Out for Wet Clothes
Whether you work outdoors or work in the office, you’ll likely come home in winter with wet socks or gloves. If you’re running low on time and your clothes haven’t quite dried, you might slip them on prematurely. However, this is a bad idea in winter as wet garments can cause itching, cracking, sores and even eczema flare-ups.
8. Say “So Long” to Long Showers
It might be tempting to stand in a hot shower or soak in a hot bath for hours on end during the winter. But while it certainly feels soothing, it also strips your skin of moisture. To keep your skin plump and hydrated, limit bathing sessions to 10 minutes at a time.
9. Let Harsh Cleaners Hibernate
Because your skin is already on the front lines of winter weather, give it a break from high-strength peels, toners, or cleansers that could be even more drying. Switch to a hydrating foam, cleansing milk, or other gentle cleanser to retain facial hydration.
10. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
If the above tips don’t keep your skin quenched this winter, it’s worth it to seek out a professional opinion from a dermatologist or esthetician who knows the ins and outs of skincare. These professionals can analyze your skin type and tone and pair you with the right cleansers to keep your skin hydrated. And don’t worry about spending an arm and a leg for products, either: such doctors can often prescribe over-the-counter brands that work effectively.