We all want radiant, smooth, and wrinkle-free skin year-round. For those of us that live in an area with cool winter months, this isn’t always easy to achieve. As cooler months set in, your skin goes through a transition. The hydrated and healthy skin of summer turns into chapped and dry skin. Robert A. Norman, DO, an osteopathic physician and dermatologist from Tampa, Florida, explains why this is and gives tips on how to keep skin healthy all winter long.
“During the summer months, humid air helps to moisturize the skin, and the nourishing minerals in vitamin D are more easily accessible because of the vast amount of sunlight.” says Dr. Norman. “People also tend to drink more fluids in the warmer months, an important component of healthy skin, because of heat and increased activity.”
In the winter months, however, when activity decreases and leisure time moves indoors, it isn’t as easy to maintain healthy skin.
“When skin is properly hydrated, nourished with vitamins and exfoliated, it has a radiant glow that is noticeable to you and everyone around you,” says Dr. Norman. This is when skin is at its healthiest. When moisture is absent from the skin, it becomes chapped. Flakes of dry and dead skin appear. “Conditions like eczema, a severe dryness of skin that forms in patches over the body, may occur,” he adds. To prevent this from happening and to maintain your healthy glow, Dr. Norman recommends these five wintertime tips.
Winter Skin Care Tips
Avoid hot showers and baths. As tempting and as enjoyable as it is to jump into a hot shower on a cold winter day, don’t. “Bathing in hot water breaks down the lipid barriers in your skin, which causes a loss in moisture,” says Dr. Norman. Instead, Dr. Norman recommends taking warm showers, not hot, and to avoid staying in for an extended period of time.
Exfoliate. “The top layer of skin cells are either dead or old and make your skin look dull,” says Dr. Norman. Exfoliating gets rid of the dead skin cells and reveals newer, healthier-looking skin. Dr. Norman recommends using a light exfoliate scrub, but to not over-exfoliate.
Moisturize differently and don’t pick at dry skin. “Peeling off dead skin is dangerous and will not help to revitalize new skin cells,” says Dr. Norman. He recommends using a heavier moisturizer in the winter that is oil-based, not water-based, to nourish skin from the inside and help balance natural oil production. “Make sure to grab an oil-based moisturizer with SPF, even when the sun isn’t out,” Dr. Norman adds. “UV rays that cause skin damage are present year-round, rain or shine.” He also recommends keeping a small bottle of moisturizer with you if you are going to be outdoors for most of the day, as your skin may dry out as the day goes on.
Use a humidifier. In winter months, the lack of moisture in the air causes skin to crack and become itchy. “Humidifiers put moisture back into the air and prevent extreme dry skin,” says Dr. Norman. “They also enhance moisture absorption in the nose and assist with mucus secretions, which are important in preventing things like sinusitis, especially in the winter months.”
Bundle up in layers and take off wet clothes. Wet clothes that are worn close to the skin can cause irritation and sores. Dr. Norman recommends dressing in layers, which will allow you to take clothes off when you experience overheating and sweating.
“Skin needs time to adapt to new routines, so don’t expect drastic changes overnight,” says Dr. Norman. “Start following these tips early, and your skin will thank you this winter season.
Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine, or DOs, look beyond your symptoms to understand how lifestyle and environmental factors affect your wellbeing. They listen and partner with you to help you get healthy and stay well. They also encourage your body’s natural tendency toward self-healing.