6 Ways to Protect Your Skin from Harsh Winter Weather
Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. Moisturize from head to toe every day. "If you don't normally apply a moisturizer to your skin, now may be the time to get in the habit," Dr. Miranda says. "If you use a moisturizer but your skin is still dry and cracked, change to a richer version. In general, ointments are more moisturizing than creams, and creams are more moisturizing than lotions."
Before going outside, apply a heavy layer of moisturizer to your face, hands, and any other exposed areas. "Frequent hand washing to avoid flu and cold germs can really dry out your hands," Dr. Miranda says. "Make sure to apply lotions and ointments to your hands frequently, especially after hand washing."
Cool and shorten your shower. When the temperatures drop, a nice long, hot shower or bath sounds great. But too much washing dries out the skin, as does hot water. Dr. Miranda recommends sticking to a quick, warm shower every other day. "Hot water can break down the skin's natural moisturizing lipids, which keep moisture in and protect skin against drying conditions," Dr. Miranda says. Afterward, pat skin dry to keep water in, and then apply a moisturizer right away - ideally within just a few minutes - to prevent water evaporation.
Keep applying sunscreen. Although there is less sunlight in the winter and most of our skin is covered due to the cold weather, the sun's ultraviolet rays can be just as damaging during the winter months. Dr. Miranda recommends applying sunscreen of at least SPF 15 to the face, hands and lips daily. If you are out in the snow, up your SPF to counteract the effect of sunlight reflecting off the white surface of the snow.
Use a humidifier. "Usually it's what you're doing inside that makes your skin chapped," says Dr. Miranda. "Central heat, space heaters and other heating methods create a low-humidity environment, and the skin suffers." She suggests adding humidifiers to your home to restore moisture to the air.
Examine your skin care products. "Using different products specifically for winter is often a good switch," Dr. Miranda says. Consider switching to moisturizing, alcohol-free versions of body wash, face cleansers, body lotions and facial moisturizers. "If any of your skin care products contain strong exfoliants like alpha-hydroxy acids, you may want to switch to a gentler product for a few months to avoid excessive drying," she suggests. However, you do want to exfoliate gently to enhance your skin's ability to absorb moisturizers. "Using a gentle moisturizer with glycolic or salicylic acid once or twice a week is all you need," she says.
Protect from the inside out. "Your skin benefits from the same suggestions for general good health, like getting plenty of sleep, not smoking, exercising regularly, drinking lots of water and eating a healthy diet," Dr. Miranda says. In particular, antioxidants like beta-carotene and vitamins A, C, and E are great for your skin, as are Omega-3 fatty acids. Antioxidants can curb the damage from dry, colder air and free radicals and can be found in many fruits and vegetables like strawberries, grapefruit and leafy greens. Omega-3 fatty acids help protect skin from toxins and pollutants and can be found in walnuts, many kinds of beans and cold water fish, like tuna and salmon.
Meet Dr. Miranda
Dr. Susan Miranda is now welcoming new patients. Please call 864-527-8600 to schedule your appointment.