How to Prevent Dry Winter Skin


In This Article:

For some people winter changes everything about how their skin looks and feels while for others nothing changes. So why do some people escape the cold with nary a sign of dry, itchy, or dull skin? Because their skin has the ability to retain healthy water levels which keeps the top layers soft and satiny smooth.

If your skin doesn't act this way on its own, then what you absolutely must use are products containing skin-repairing ingredients that prevent moisture loss and enhance skin's natural ability to stay smooth, glowing, and soft.
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Recommended for Winter Skin

Do I Need to Change My Skin-Care Products During Winter?

If you're among those whose skin takes a beating during winter, not to worry: with a few simple skin-care guidelines you can easily escape winter weather woes. To get started you need to determine the condition of your skin:

Does your skin have any of the following problems?

  1. Sun damage
  2. Skin disorders such as eczema
  3. Has gone through menopause
  4. Is impaired because you're using skin care products that contain drying or irritating ingredients

If any of the above describes your skin, then it lacks the ability to keep moisture where it's needed because it has lost the substances necessary to keep water content normalized and the surface feeling like silk. When these substances are depleted the skin can't protect itself from the weather in any season, but especially not in winter.

What are these substances that young skin has in abundance? Antioxidants, skin-repairing ingredients, and cell-communicating ingredients that help generate normal skin cells.

Winterize Your Skin

In order to win the battle winter weather can wage against your skin, you have to put back into skin what it is missing: antioxidants, skin-repairing ingredients, and cell-communicating ingredients. That requires brilliantly formulated products we will recommend in the steps below.

You also must stop doing things that abuse your skin and further destroy its ability to be vital and radiant. Those bad habits will only make seasonal dryness worse, resulting in dry, flaky, downright uncomfortable skin.

Every day and night, season to season, your skin requires certain basics to defend against any environmental conditions.

Here's what you need to do:

  • Wear sunscreen 365 days a year no matter how warm or cold, or whether the sun is shining or not: Sun-damaged skin has minimal ability to function normally so it can look luminous and silken. The damage leads to a host of problems that keep your skin from looking its best.

  • Apply a well-formulated moisturizer: If you're struggling with dryness, use a moisturizer that is filled to the brim with antioxidants to fight environmental damage. It should also contain ingredients that help keep water in skin, anti-inflammatory ingredients to reduce irritation, and cell-communicating ingredients to help skin produce normal skin cells (which it can't do on its own because of the factors mentioned above).

  • You must use a moisturizer appropriate for your skin type: A lotion or cream is best for dry skin, a serum or gel for combination skin, and a liquid (think toner) for oily skin. If you have oily skin that gets drier during winter months, definitely consider a lotion or lightweight cream for the dry areas.

  • Avoid soap, use only gentle cleansers: This habit cannot be stressed enough. Never use a cleanser that is harsher on your skin than the weather outside, and that includes from the neck down. Do not scrub skin; you can't scour away dryness. Scrubbing creates tiny tears on the surface of skin impairing its ability to keep water where it needs to be. We list the best body cleansers in the Beautypedia Reviews section of this site.

  • Avoid soaking in the bathtub, Jacuzzi, or taking long showers: As wonderful as a leisurely bath or shower feels, too much water is bad for skin. Inundating skin with water breaks down the substances that keep skin cells intact. Keep showers or baths short, especially during the winter.

  • After bathing or showering, apply a body moisturizer as soon as you can: Skin is more vulnerable after it is clean (water and even gentle cleansers can remove some amount of the essential substances that keep your skin soft and smooth). The sooner you get a moisturizer on, the better. It will help keep any moisture on the surface of skin from escaping into the environment.

  • Get a humidifier: Low humidity is the cause of most weather-related dry skin, whether it is winter or a desert environment. Humidifiers are relatively inexpensive, last a long time, and work for the whole family. If you have a large home, you may need two or three humidifiers to gain benefit. Be sure to follow usage and cleaning instructions.

  • Exfoliate: A well-formulated AHA or BHA exfoliant can help facilitate normal skin cell turnover and that makes the surface of skin and the lower layers behave beautifully as they should. Helping skin do what it should do year-round (turn over the top layer and replace it with newer, smoother cells that can better protect skin) is a great way to prevent dryness and dull skin.

  • Use non-fragranced plant oil: At night, after you've applied your moisturizer, massage a few drops of plant oil such as extra virgin olive oil or flax seed oil over stubborn dry areas. These types of oils are not only incredibly emollient, they are also rich in antioxidants and that is great for skin. Other oils to consider include evening primrose, jojoba, safflower, or wheat germ.

  • Don't forget your lips: Lips are the least capable of staying smooth and soft when the air becomes dry. They lack the oils and skin structure the rest of the face has and, as a result, are far more vulnerable to the effects of dry air. During the day and night be sure to put an emollient lip gloss or lip balm on your lips. It absolutely should not contain any irritating ingredients such as peppermint or menthol which makes dry lips worse. And by the way, your lips don't adapt or become addicted to lip balms or Chapstick®. The need to keep reapplying is because the ones you chose didn't work all that well in the first place (and of course lip balms do wear away, necessitating occasional reapplication).

  • For dry skin on your hands, apply and reapply moisturizer: The thicker the better! Because hands are subject to intense cleansing agents all day long they struggle the most with dry skin. You must be diligent about applying and reapplying moisturizer every time you wash your hands. Don't forget to keep a moisturizer in your purse, at your desk, and in every bathroom in your home. For hands thicker, extremely emollient moisturizers work best; during the day it needs to also include sunscreen.

The Best Skin of Your Life Starts Here: The same type of in-depth scientific research used to create this article is also used to formulate Paula’s Choice Skincare products. You’ll find products for all skin types and a range of concerns, from acne and sensitive skin to wrinkles, pores, and sun damage. With Paula’s Choice Skincare, you can get (and keep) the best skin of your life! See Paula's Choice Products for Dry Skin.

About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books on skin care and makeup. She is known worldwide as the Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula's Choice. Paula's expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international television including:

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The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to busting beauty myths and helping you solve your skincare frustrations with research-supported expert advice—so you'll have the facts you need to take the best possible care of your skin.

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