We take the time to swap out jackets for coats and shoes for boots to protect our body from winter’s frigid weather, but we don’t always think to make similar adjustments to our skincare routine to combat the harsh effects the cold has on our looks. And as a result, come the coldest months of the year, we’re overwhelmed with a plethora of skin arghs — from rosacea to eczema! Luckily, top dermatologists share their easy, affordable skin winter skincare tips that will leave you looking gorgeous all season long.
Chapped lips? Apply a green tea compress.
Because our lips lack oil glands, they’re prone to becoming cracked and raw after battling winter viruses or spending time among the season’s moisture-sapping elements. And all that lip balm you’re using is not doing the trick.
The winter tweak: Before slathering on any balm (which tends to just sit on lips’ surface), Harrison, New York, dermatologist Debbie Palmer, MD, advises applying a warm green tea compress. The tea’s warmth helps its hydrating flavonoids penetrate lips to restore moisture within, while its antioxidants mend cracked, damaged skin. Plus, compounds in the brew kill bacteria that can lead to cold sores, so your pout stays healthy to boot. To do: Steep one bag of green tea in 2 cups of hot water for five minutes. Take the bag out, let it cool for two minutes, then place on top of lips for five minutes; remove, then seal with lip balm.
Dry, ashy skin? Slather skincare oil.
Scaly, parched, skin-dulling patches are the inevitable “battle wounds” of a cold, dry winter. And while you likely already know that applying skincare oils post-shower is optimal since that’s when skin best absorbs hydrating nutrients, your skin is still very dry.
The winter tweak: Minnesota-based dermatologist Jenny Liu, MD, suggests slathering the oil on before hopping into the shower as well. Since a hot shower can strip skin of moisture, a viscous oil creates a barrier that prevents any excessive water loss. It also reduces the chance of skin becoming inf lamed or irritated by the water’s warmer temperature. To do: Rub 4 drops of olive oil (its fatty acids deeply penetrate skin to lock in moisture) onto dry skin before showering and apply another 4 drops onto skin immediately afterward.
Rosacea? Rub in petroleum jelly.
If you’re like us, winter’s harsh elements have you seeing red — literally. And while skin cream can help, it’s no match for the whipping winds that strip skin of moisture and weaken its outermost layer, fueling rosacea flare-ups.
The winter tweak: “Apply a layer of petroleum jelly to the face before going to bed,” says New York City dermatologist Kenneth Mark, MD. The jelly absorbs into skin overnight and forms an invisible shield over the face to prevent frigid temperatures and brisk winds from stripping skin’s barrier. What’s more, the petrolatum deeply moisturizes skin to help reduce redness. To do: Apply a pea-size amount of petroleum jelly onto a clean, dry face at night. Tip: If you shower in the morning, apply another light layer of the jelly onto skin right afterward.
Cracked hands? Use a gentle face cleanser.
Constant washing this time of year to kill cold and flu season germs leaves hands parched, cracked and crepey. And cutting down on sudsing up is not an option!
The winter tweak: Utah-based dermatologist Dylan Alston, DO, recommends swapping your go-to hand soap for a gentle face cleanser. Since these cleansers (we like Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser, Buy from Target, $12.89) are made to gently remove bacteria and germs from delicate facial skin while leaving it moisturized, they’re perfect for helping hand skin from becoming dry and cracked as well, he says. Skin already dry and cracked? Try this two-step trick: First, toss a pair of cotton gloves in the microwave for 10 seconds. Next, apply a thick, emollient cream onto hands and slip on the gloves. Wear for 10 minutes, remove and let any residue absorb. The gloves keep the cream on hands, while the warmth lets it sink deeper into skin to mend cracks and alleviate dryness.
Eczema? Wash with fatty acid-infused soap.
Frigid weather can exacerbate eczema, the condition that leaves behind itchy, uncomfortable patches of dehydrated skin. And you may be surprised to learn that the bar soap you use year-round may actually be causing an uptick in flare-ups since it tends to have a high pH level and contains harsh detergents that further dehydrate and inflame skin.
The winter tweak: Swap your go-to bar soap for one that’s infused with fatty acids (we like Dove Sensitive Skin Beauty Bar, Buy from Walgreens.com, $9), says New York City dermatologist Rosemarie Ingleton, MD. This will hydrate and cleanse skin without disrupting its barrier, treating current eczema flare-ups and preventing future ones from occurring. Also smart? Dr. Ingleton suggests lowering your shower temperature from hot to slightly warm. Sure, stepping into a steamy, hot shower can feel good on a cold day, but the scalding temperature ends up weakening skin’s outermost layer and stripping moisture that worsens the skin condition.
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.
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