Winter skin can be dry, irritated, acne-prone, and just plain uncomfortable. As we move into the colder and drier months, some of us may be excited for the snow and the holidays, while others are making game plans for how to keep our winter skin healthy, hydrated and protected. No matter what your skin type is, winter can be a really challenging time to have your dream skin. Follow these tips and tricks to keep your skin feeling fresh!
1. Keep Yourself And Your Skin Hydrated
I don’t think this is news to any of us, but staying hydrated is the best foundational piece of wellness you can give to both your skin and your overall health. More importantly, staying hydrated with water is your best bet to a clean, clear skin base. Although it might be tempting to reach for a sweet soda, a tart juice, or even a boozy cocoa, just remember that refined sugars increase inflammation in the skin and start the process of glycation, or the breakdown of collagen and elastin in the skin. Remind yourself to hydrate throughout the day by keeping a cup of water or a water bottle nearby. If you find drinking plain water a challenge, try adding a lemon, lime, or drinking sugar-free seltzer.
2. Get A Humidifier
Dryness in our environment can be just as harmful as not being hydrated enough internally. Hot, dry air can irritate the respiratory system as well as your nose, mouth and skin. This happens because the moisture in your skin can evaporate when you are placed in a hot, dry environment. If you don’t want or can’t get an electric humidifier, try a ceramic humidifier to place on your radiator. For something even smaller, place a diffuser next to your bed to help keep the air moist while you sleep. You could even occasionally mist yourself, like an exotic houseplant.
3. Don’t Take Really Hot Showers
You’re freezing cold after the walk home from class, the cold office, or a day of playing in the snow. All you want to do is get into a piping hot shower and steam all your troubles away with a candle and some mulled wine. Be careful with that water temperature though! Hot water can damage the outermost layer of skin, disrupting and damaging the cells and leading to dry skin. Now that your sweet cells are damaged, they don’t have the power to lock-in moisture and protect themselves. Instead, try taking a warm shower to reduce the damage. If you’re really brave, finish your shower with a rinse of cool or cold water for a little refresher. The cold water will wake you up and constrict the blood vessels of your outermost skin, which helps to close your pores and protect from bacteria.
4. Moisturizing: Lotion Vs. Oil
Whether olive, coconut, or almond, I am a huge fan. I love using oil in my skincare routine, but in the winter I find that it just doesn’t do the trick. Sometimes after a warm shower, or especially a bath, I’ll still use oil in the winter because it can be super hydrating for my dry winter skin. However, I find that the true power of lotion is the ability to lock-in moisture, which is essential in protecting your skin from harsh weather. Just be mindful that you are still periodically doing a mask and some type of exfoliation so that you don’t get a huge build-up of product, which tends to happen to me a lot with lotions. Due to their ability to protect the skin from external conditions, lotions can also keep dead skin cells trapped beneath that beautiful layer of moisture.
As I just mentioned, dead skin cells and layers of product can build up on the skin, which creates a perfect environment for clogged pores and acne. Although over-exfoliating can be damaging to the skin, exfoliating once, twice, or even three times a week is generally recommended. For very sensitive skin, I recommend maybe once a week with a gentle sugar scrub. If your skin isn’t as sensitive, two or three times a week should be perfect, and you may be able to choose from a wider variety of products. Your skin regenerates every twenty-seven or so days, which is great, but that’s still a long time to wait if you’ve over-exfoliated and exposed sweet, baby skin cells to the harsh cold. Exfoliation is your friend, you just can’t overuse it!
6. Don’t Pick At It
I’m serious, and this isn’t just for healthy winter skin. You never know what oils or bacteria you have on your hands, and by prodding and possibly even breaking the skin’s surface you are inviting that oil and bacteria to call your skin home. Not only do you introduce these things to your skin, but you also damage the cells by picking at them. Unless you are in the process of exfoliation and care, leave your skin alone! You don’t want to make the problem worse, and believe me, picking at it will always make the problem worse. Sometimes, your skin just needs a little time to heal on its own.
7. Go Easy On The Makeup
You might want to cover up acne, dark spots, dry skin, or any number of things, but coating your skin every single day with product doesn’t give it enough time to breathe. As I mentioned above about occasionally using oil rather than lotion, by constantly locking in dead skin cells, rogue bacteria, and the oil naturally produced by the skin, you can inadvertently cause irritation and breakouts. I know there are some people who like wearing makeup, feel more confident in makeup, and wouldn’t dream of going bare. If this is you, that’s okay! Do what’s best for you. Just try to give your skin a day or two off, always wash your makeup off at night with a gentle cleanser, and clean your applicators frequently. Clean and careful is the key, especially because winter skin can be extra finicky.
8. Physically Protect Yourself
Windburn can cause redness and irritation of the skin after being in the cold, harsh winds of winter. Protecting your skin can be as simple as remembering to wear sunscreen even though it’s cold and you aren’t at the beach. I also suggest wearing a physical barrier such as a scarf, a high collar, or a face mask to protect from wind damage. Although some experts argue that windburn is just sunburn, by both physically protecting your skin and wearing sunscreen you will protect yourself on both fronts. I especially recommend these practices for those who practice winter sports such as skiers, and for those who are often out walking or working no matter the weather.
9. Eat Good Fats
Good fats high in Omega-3s have been shown to reduce inflammation, which can lead to redness and acne. In addition, an increase in Omega-3s in your diet can help to seal moisture into your skin because these good fats help improve the skin’s ability to function as a barrier. Foods like fish and seafood are really great sources of Omega-3. For vegan or more versatile options, try flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and walnuts. It’s easy to put a spoonful of flax, chia, or hemp seeds into a smoothie, to add them to your morning yogurt and granola, or to add them in with your baking. Just make sure you know how to eat them: hemp and chia seeds are best raw, while flax needs to be ground up really fine and cooked, baked, or toasted to destroy toxins that can be harmful in high doses. As always, it’s best to ask a doctor or nutritionist if you have any questions about a diet change.
10. Get Plenty Of Sleep
It’s not called beauty rest for no reason! Sleep is important for every aspect of our overall health, just like hydration. Not being well rested puts your body under stress, which causes your body to release cortisol, the stress hormone. The skin’s response to cortisol is to produce more oil, which makes you more prone to breakouts. Not getting enough sleep also means that your body doesn’t have that shut-eye time to heal, and that you might be too tired to keep up your regular skin care regime. If you have trouble falling asleep, try shutting off electronics an hour before bedtime, reading, writing, doing light stretching, and drinking relaxing herbal tea to help you wind down.
Everyone’s winter skin is different, and some skin needs a little more or a little less attention to thrive. What are your favorite tips and tricks for optimal winter skin?
Featured Image: via Instagram @jastookes
Photos: via Instagram: @lamekafox, @musesuniform, @loriharvey, @withloveleena, @panoramaglasslodge, also via lioninthewild.com
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