If you live in a location where temperatures plummet in the winter, you know just how damaging colder weather can be to your skin. Winter weather is infamous for causing dry, flaky skin that can crack and become seriously painful if not cared for properly.
Needless to say, winter skincare is essential. And if being outside and exposed to cold, dry conditions wasn’t enough, keeping the heat cranked and the fire roaring inside can also wreak havoc on your skin by drying it out even more.
If you want to keep your skin summer-soft and supple during the cold months of winter, the following winter skincare tips can help you look and feel better no matter how much Jack Frost is nipping at your nose.
10 Winter Skincare Tips You Shouldn’t Live Without
1. Keep Indoor Air Moist
One of the very best things you can do for your skin during the cold, dry months of winter is to invest in a humidifier, especially if you’re cranking up the heat in your house. Humidifiers raise humidity levels by adding moisture to the air, which is exactly what dry skin needs.
By controlling your environment, you can control the health of your skin. The skin is the body’s largest organ and low humidity levels reduce the skin’s natural moisture barrier, leading to the dry, flaky skin winter is famous for. Raise the humidity levels indoors with a humidifier and you’ll notice a huge difference in the health of your skin.
2. Turn Down the Heat
Cranking up the thermostat is a given as fall turns to winter. As tempting as it might be to turn the thermostat up to 80, do your skin a favor and don’t. Higher indoor temperatures might take the chill out of your bones, but your home’s central heating system only makes indoor air dryer.
What’s the best indoor temperature to set your thermostat? If you’re looking to maintain the health of your skin, keep the air in your home cool but comfortable enough to live in. Ideally, your thermostat should be set between 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit to keep skin from drying out too much.
3. Skip the Hot Showers and Baths
As much as soaking in a hot bath or taking a steaming shower might sound like the perfect remedy for a cold winter’s day, exposure to hot water in dry air can wreak havoc on the health of your skin.
The American Academy of Dermatology Association (AADA) recommends using warm water instead of hot water and limiting shower or bath time to no longer than 5-10 minutes. If you do treat your cold bones to a hot shower or bath, it’s recommended to keep the bathroom door shut and moisturize after you dry.
Another winter skincare tip dermatologists offer is to moisturize skin with a body oil before you step into a warm shower or bath. Coconut oil is an excellent moisturizer and will help hydrate and protect your skin before you bathe.
Experts also advise you to moisturize immediately after your shower, explaining that moisturizers like ointments, creams, and lotions work by trapping existing moisture in your skin. For the best results, moisturizer should be applied within minutes of gently drying off.
4. Use the Right Kind of Moisturizer for Dry Winter Skin
Moisturizer is a must during the winter, and it’s equally vital to use the right kind of moisturizer on dry skin. Before you reach for a bottle of your favorite lotion, be advised that ointments and creams are a far better option for winter skincare.
Dermatologists maintain that using a lotion is one of the biggest mistakes people make when trying to soothe dry winter skin. Not only are creams and ointments more effective but they’re also less irritating. Look for creams that contain olive oil, jojoba oil, or shea butter to moisturize your skin during harsh winter months.
Something often overlooked, but amazingly efficient for winter skincare, are essential oils. Frankincense, rose, geranium, lavender, sandalwood and helichrysum essential oils are excellent for soothing dry skin. Just be sure to dilute in a carrier oil beforehand (think hempseed, coconut, olive, avocado and almond), as most essential oils are too concentrated to be applied directly to the skin.
Hand cream is also a winter weather must-have. Carry a hand cream with you and apply after washing your hands or doing the dishes, as well as throughout the day. Our hands tend to get the most exposure regardless of what time of year it is, but harsh winter weather can cause them to take a serious beating.
5. Switch Up Your Skincare Routine
During winter months especially, it’s time to opt for an unscented, gentle facial cleanser and skincare routine. Why? Many facial cleansers are simply too harsh on the skin in those dark, dry months of winter.
Alcohol, fragrance, alpha-hydroxy acids, and retinoids can prove to be too much for dry skin. You can help skin retain its natural moisture by using a mild, creamy cleanser without any extras. Toners and astringents are a winter skincare no-no, as many contain alcohol which can further dry out the skin.
The same applies for body wash. You’ll want to use something mild that doesn’t strip moisture from the skin. Consider a body wash or soap that is gentle and fragrance-free.
6. Don’t Skip the Sunscreen
Just because the sun hasn’t been out for days doesn’t mean you should forgo using sunscreen. The sun’s UV rays still sneak through on cloudy days and can do some serious damage.
Additionally, if you live in a climate where snow is common, sunscreen is an absolute winter skincare essential. Bright white snow reflects the sun’s rays, making you even more susceptible to sun exposure.
While we typically think to grab a tube of sunscreen only in the summer, it’s a must for winter as well. Before stepping outside, cover all exposed parts of your body with a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or above.
7. Ease Up on Exfoliation
We love a good exfoliator. In the winter, though, exfoliators can end up making dry skin worse. If your skin isn’t extremely dry, you can still exfoliate but should consider exfoliating less than you might normally. Once a week in the winter months is really all you need and is sufficient for maintaining proper skin regeneration.
8. Embrace Dry Brushing
Dry brushing can be a dry skin savior during the winter. Yes, dry brushing does exfoliate skin, but it’s done with a brush rather than a product and is an excellent way to remove dead skin cells that make skin appear dull.
As part of your winter skincare routine, consider dry brushing once or twice a week with a very soft-bristled brush. Focus on brushing the skin on the arms and legs with long, gentle strokes moving toward the heart. Dry brushing on the belly should be done in a clockwise motion.
For best results in bringing life back to dry, dull winter skin, dry brushing should be done before your bath or shower, and of course, remember to moisturize right after you towel off!
9. Wear the Right Clothes
While a wool sweater will do wonders to keep you warm, it’s not always the best choice for your skin. Rough fabrics like wool can irritate skin, causing it to become drier than it already is in the winter.
When it comes to your winter wardrobe and skincare, you’ve got to wear the right clothes. If you insist on keeping warm with rough fabrics, protect your skin by wearing a soft, breathable material closest to your skin and then layer on top of that.
Gloves are a necessity in harsh winter climates. Wearing gloves will help protect your hands from exposure to dry winter air, which will help keep them from drying out as the winter months wear on. Again, if you plan on wearing wool winter gloves, keep your hands protected with silk or cotton glove liners.
10. Nourish Your Skin from Within
What we eat has a huge effect on the health of our skin. During the winter, you can help keep dry skin at bay by staying hydrated and eating foods that are known to keep skin supple and moisturized.
Omega-3 fatty acids are one addition to your winter diet that is great for the health of your skin. Did you know that an omega-3 deficiency is known to cause dry skin? Fatty fish like salmon and mackerel and other oil-rich foods like hemp seeds, flax seeds and walnuts are all great sources of omega-3s that make a wonderful addition to your wintertime diet.
Avocados are also high in healthy fats that help keep skin moisturized. One study of over 700 women found that a diet high in healthy fats like those found in avocados is linked to increased skin elasticity. Avocados might also help protect skin from the sun’s damaging UV rays.
Winter skincare should include drinking plenty of water. Staying hydrated is huge for skin health. Also, make sure you don’t overdo it on caffeine or alcohol, which can dry out skin even more.
Use these winter skincare tips during the upcoming colder months to maintain your healthy glow all season long! Have any more winter skincare tricks up your sleeve? Leave them in the comments below!
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Hannah Smith is Joy Organics Director of Communications. She is driven by her passion for providing clear and accessible wellness and CBD education. In 2015, she received her BA in Media, Culture and the Arts from The King’s College in New York City and before Joy Organics, worked as writer and photographer in the Middle East and North Africa. Her work has been featured on Forbes, Vice, Vox, Denver Post, and the Coloradoan.