Conquering the Last of the Winter Skin Blues
Old Man Winter hasn't been as testy this year as usual but beyond a few scattered days of high temperatures and sunny skies, most of us are still dealing with cold weather skin troubles.
Dry, dull, flaky skin - which left untreated can speed premature aging - is the worst of it, but breakouts can happen from over-moisturizing. It's also a common mistake to skip the sunscreen when skies are grey and cloudy. Even during the darkest days the sun can still damage skin.
With issues like this, winter is no picnic for our body's biggest organ. But lucky for you, EDGE has polled a crackerjack team of experts for the best tips on how to get back to loving the skin you're in.
The most popular advice we heard from our experts was to shun the hot shower if you're looking to save your skin from winter woes. Taking a long, luxurious soak under a toasty spray when it's frosty outside is pure bliss. But it also sucks the moisture right out of your skin.
"Warm water is perfect for washing dirt and germs off of your body, but avoid super-hot water, which will dissolve the natural protective oils on your skin, leaving it feeling dry and itchy," advises Tsippora Shainhouse, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist in Beverly Hills and clinical instructor at the University of Southern California. "Limit showers to 10 minutes maximum to prevent washing off all of your natural skin oils. Don't shower more than once a day, and you can probably skip a day if you aren't heading to the gym."
Meanwhile, makeup artist Hillary Kline finds sponges, scrub brushes and even washcloths too rough for use on delicate winter skin. She also says that when drying off "you should pat, not rub the skin."
Lather and Slather
Along with liberal use of sunscreen, there is little more important to you skin's health and appearance than moisturizing. It's doubly important in the winter, when indoor heat and outdoor cold can combine to make you desert dry. Just don't overdo it, lest you be rewarded with a greasy sheen - Kline says no more than twice daily. The best time to moisturize, according to Shainhouse, is within a few minutes after stepping out of the shower.
Megan Linney, spa director at The Spa at Red Rock by Well & Being in Las Vegas, likes to take layered approach to facial care in winter, with moisturizing as the icing. "Gentle and regular exfoliation is skin's best defense in the cold months," she notes. "After exfoliating, make sure that you apply an antioxidant, as the skin needs to be fed, too. Next, layer on a light application of hydrating serum to prime your skin to absorb even more moisture. Last, top off with a moisturizer that will seal in all the goodness."
Just don't forget to keep your lips luscious, too. "For chapped lips, mixing sugar with honey is a great moisturizer that helps heal them quickly," says César Sánchez, spa manager, Kuö Spa - Costa Rica Marriott Hotel San Jose. "Mix two teaspoons of sugar with one teaspoon of honey and rub the paste gently on the face to loosen the dead skin cells. Let it sit for a few minutes and then wash off with lukewarm water."
Speaking of using nature to heal rather than nasty chemicals, Kim Weiler, a holistic health coach and author, has a whole host of natural oils she loves to slather all over her skin. "These are all anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant oils," she explains. "They've been used for centuries. When I have a specific area that's extra dry, I'll put some castor oil on and just be sure to wear an old t-shirt or something over it, because it's sticky. If it's really a problem area, you can wrap the oiled area in plastic wrap and leave it on overnight."
"Hemp seed oil is a great moisturizer," Weiler continues, "and it also alleviates itching and irritation. I mix peanut oil and almond oil together - they're just so rich in vitamin E and other vitamins and minerals. That's great for skin that's cracking, because they help heal surface cells and enhance the skin's pliability."
Weiler's very favorite oil is coconut, which Kokoa UK a new, all-natural, vegan skincare company offers. They recommend it for use everywhere, including hair, as a pre-shampoo treatment. Just coat your hair with coconut oil and leave it on for 20 minutes before washing. This nourishes your hair and gives it shine without leaving a greasy residue.
With these easy-to-follow guidelines, you'll be ready to show some serious skin come swimsuit season.