Winter is one of my least favorite seasons not only because I hate the cold, but because of what it does to my skin. The cold and blustery conditions outside paired with the warm dry air inside can leave your skin feeling dry, itchy and raw. To make matters worse, I suffer from eczema on my legs which are patches of dry scaly skin. Winter is the worst time for eczema because it makes me want to scratch my legs apart.
I’ve started to get into a winter skincare routine and learn more about what my skin needs every day. I’ve learned that there are simple ways to combat the causes of dry winter skin and get your skin glowing and moist all season long. There are things that I’ve changed in my daily routine to help my skin and I’ve also bought a few new products to help me with my goal of healthy winter skin.
WHAT NOT TO DO
1. Avoid long, hot showers
Have you ever been outside for a long period during the winter? You went sledding in the snow or were out for a scenic stroll in the park. It was a nice time but now you’re freezing cold and can’t feel your toes, so you jump into the nice hot shower. It’s the best feeling but that long, steamy shower is actually terrible for your skin. I know that hot water irritates my eczema so I try not to run the water to warm. If the water turns your skin red, it’s too hot. The hot water can strip your skin of important oils and leave your skin feeling dry and irritated. When possible, use warm or lukewarm water instead, even when you’re washing your hands in the sink.
2. Say no to tanning
During these winter months your skin will become paler and you’ll feel as if you’re lacking in vitamin D. Many people have the urge to jump into a tanning bed to get some color on their skin and to get some much-needed vitamin D. It sounds great, but the risks and damages that a tanning bed can do to your skin far outweighs the temporary boost you may feel from using one. The ultraviolet rays that a tanning booth gives off can cause cell damage and can lead to skin cancer. What you can do instead is take vitamin D supplements to increase your exposure and you can use fake tanner lotions to have a sun-kissed complexion.
3. Avoid dryness
This may seem like a no brainier to avoid dryness during the winter months, but it is harder to do than you may think. It’s freezing outside so the first thing you want to do when you get home, is crank up the heat. I know that I’m certainly guilty of this. But in fact, central heating can make the air in your home even drier. Having a space heater can also cause dryness in the air and your skin. What you can do is to set the temperature of your thermostat to a cool yet comfortable setting. We have ours in between 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit. What I’ve learned to do is have the temperature of our home is lower than I would like and then use my heated blanket. It’s cost-effective and doesn’t use that much energy to heat up.
4. Don’t wear irritating clothing
It is the season of big comfy sweaters, wool socks, and wearing layers upon layers of clothing but in fact, many fabrics can irritate your skin. As a person living with very sensitive skin, I have to avoid itchy clothing materials at all costs. I don’t own any wool sweaters or socks and I always try to wear fabric that my skin likes. Instead, I try to wear soft, breathable fabrics that are comfortable and fun to wear. I’ve struggled to find the perfect winter gloves because a lot of them are made out of wool to keep your skin warm and insulated. I have to settle for thin cotton gloves that don’t make me want to rip my skin apart.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO
1. Stay hydrated
You need to drink water all the time, 365 days a year, but it’s even more important to stay hydrated during the winter. During these cold months, your body loses moisture in other ways than it would in summer, such as through the form of water vapor when you can see your breath through your mouth and nose when you are outside. Winter dehydration is hard to notice because you’re not actively sweating but your body needs water in order to properly function. It happens to me every couple of days where I haven’t had any water to drink and my body feels thirsty and my lips are severely chapped. It is vital you keep hydrated to regulate your body temperature, allowing your blood to carry important nutrients and oxygen around your body and remove toxins from your body. I like to keep reusable water bottles around the house, in my car, and at work to ensure that I’m drinking enough throughout the day.
2. Invest in a humidifier
As a kid, I used to suffer from nose-bleeds during the winter months at my parent’s home. We had old radiators in each room that would get so hot, they would burn you if you touched them. What my dad discovered was that the dry air from the radiators was causing my nose to dry out and bleed. So we started keeping a pan of water on top of the heater in my bedroom. It made such a difference in my nose and in the quality of my skin. Now that I’ve grown up, I own a humidifier and keep it on my bedside table. Each night I fill it with water and have it on a low setting pointed over the bed. It really helps to keep my skin hydrated.
3. Modify your skin-care regimen
When your skin is dry and itchy, like it is in the winter months, it is recommended that you stop using products that contain alcohol and fragrances in order to help your skin retain its natural oils. In the morning before I put on all my makeup for the day, I like to start off my skincare routine by washing my face with lukewarm water and an organic scrub. Then I use my jade roller and moisturizing facial serum that is made of pumpkin seed, almonds, and lavender oil. It really leaves my skin glowing for the rest of the day. At night before bed, I love using a hydrating night cream that re-hydrates my dry thirsty skin. It’s made of antioxidant-rich green tea along with enriching vitamins C, A and E to help soften and smooth my skin. You can see the products I use in the image above. And don’t forget about your lips! I use a ton of moisturizing balm to help my dry, cracked lips.
4. Moisturize frequently
The same lotion or moisturizer that you use all year long, might not do its job during the colder winter months. If your skin is severely dry, you should try adding an emollient moisturizer that seals in the moisture. I personally like to use a cocoa butter lotion on my skin as the first layer of moisture and then I add on a thicker moisturizer on top of the lotion. It’s also important to remember to use hand cream after each time you wash your hands. I keep a lotion at my desk at work to use each time I wash my hands and when I’m at home I try to use gloves when washing the dishes so that my hands are exposed to the hot water I’m using.