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Few things are quite as refreshing as crisp, winter air. The cool breeze may be just the breath of fresh air you need, but that fresh air can also cause your skin to lose moisture quickly. Retreating indoors to warm up in the comfort of your heated bedroom can be relaxing, but it can exacerbate problems with dry skin too. In fact, there are a handful of things many of us do that actually contribute to dry skin in the winter months. Check the following list of common winter skin care habits to see if you have committed any of these skin care faux pas.
Culprit #1: Thinking in extremes – Too much hot and cold
When it’s cold outside, it’s natural for us to run inside where it’s warm. But you should limit your exposure to extreme temperatures that can dry out your skin. Cold air dries the skin and hot air is drier than cold air, according to Harvard Health.
Beyond just the temperature of the air, you also need to be conscious of the temperature of your body. Dress in layers when you go outside so that you can add or remove layers as needed to maintain a consistent body temperature. Too few clothes and your skin can dry out from the cold. Too many clothes and your skin can become irritated from the moisture of your perspiration.
The same rule applies to hot and cold water. Bathe and shower in warm water, not hot water. It’s inviting to come in from the cold, take a hot bath and sit in your plush robe with a cup of hot cocoa, but hot water is a winter skin care no-no.
Culprit #2 Hanging on to your summer skin care regimen
Chances are, your summer skin care regimen will need to be different from your winter skin care regimen. In the summer months, we tend to rely on lotions and light, water-based moisturizers. In the winter months, however, WebMD’s Susan Davis recommends switching to a thicker, oil-based moisturizer that will protect your skin from the elements and help it to retain moisture.
You may respond, “Oil-based moisturizer? Won’t that clog my pores?” The answer is no. Not if you use the right oils. There are several oils that tend to be better for skin and face than other oils. Good oil choices include jojoba, mineral, avocado, primrose and almond oil. For your hands and feet, you may want to consider a heavier product like petroleum jelly. Pay special attention to your feet. You should plan to exfoliate your feet at least once a month. Removing the dead skin will help healthy skin cells to more readily absorb moisturizers when applied.
Culprit #3: Wearing itchy fabrics
Let’s make another strong case for cotton by confirming that it’s very gentle on human skin. You may have a wool coat and wool accessories, but you would be best served to steer clear of fabrics that may cause skin irritation. If you plan to wear wool gloves or a wool coat, consider wearing a thin pair of cotton gloves underneath for an added layer of protection for your skin.
Culprit #4: Cracking a window at night
I am the reigning queen of cracking a window, whether it’s in the care or in my bedroom. Tsk. Tsk. Cold air may not be the best strategy to combat hot air. Instead, adjust the setting on your thermostat and rely on blankets to help you sleep comfortably through the night. One way to help control the drying effects of the heated air being pushed through your home at night is to get a humidifier. A humidifier will put moisture back into the air, making it a little easier for you to breathe and minimizing the feeling of a room being “stuffy.”
Culprit #5: Using perfumes
Mild soaps help to reduce the likelihood of skin irritation and excessive dryness. Hand soaps can also be a culprit in the dry skin battle. Particularly in the winter months, you want to make sure that whenever you wash your hands, you pat them dry and immediately replenish the moisture with a thick hand cream or lotion. It’s also a good idea to keep hand cream readily available when you’re out.
Skin care is very personal matter. No two faces are exactly alike. No matter what you read here or anywhere else, you should always do what is best for your skin. Go with what works for you and seek the advice of a skin care professional like a dermatologist or an esthetician who can provide you with the information you need to address trouble areas and make the right decisions for your skin.