Your skin is your largest organ and protects you from harm—from microscopic organisms to everyday bumps and scrapes. In order to keep your insides healthy, you need to keep your outsides healthy, and that means taking good care of your skin.
Now that winter is officially here, temperatures are dropping, and cold, dry air is settling in. Winter can be your skin’s worst nightmare if you aren’t careful, sapping the moisture out and leaving your hands, elbows, face and more feeling rough and cracked.
Among the hustle and bustle of holiday parties, snow days and other winter activities, don’t forget to pay attention to your skin.
Effects dry air has on skin
Humidity levels drop in the winter, meaning there is a lot less moisture available in the air. This can accelerate moisture loss from your skin, leaving it looking and feeling dry or dull. Your skin is supposed to feel springy and elastic, but when it gets dehydrated, it can start to feel rough, dry, itchy and lifeless.
Dry skin is not only unsightly or mildly irritating, though. Allowing skin to get increasingly drier can actually lead to painful problems. Dry skin patches may start to get red and flaky at first and may even progress to cracking or bleeding in some areas. Exposed, inflamed or cracked skin is also potentially susceptible to bacterial infection, which can make your skin problems even worse.
Additionally, fine lines and wrinkles might also become more noticeable in dry air.
How to keep skin moisturized and healthy
Fortunately, dry skin doesn’t have to be your reality this winter. There are lots of ways to reintroduce and lock moisture within your skin to enjoy soft, smooth, hydrated skin throughout the winter months.
- Cover up: Exposing your skin to harsh winds and dry air can make the effects of dry skin worse. Protect your skin by layering up in the winter and wearing a coat, hat, gloves and other protective materials.
- Use moisturizer: Moisturizer works by trapping extra moisture within your skin. Shea butter, coconut oil and other oil-based moisturizers work great in winter. If you have sensitive skin, look for moisturizers that are scent-free. Avoid body products that contain alcohol or other chemicals. These ingredients are known to dry out the skin, not hydrate them, and can make dehydration worse. Additionally, because the different areas of your body produce oils in different ways, you might need a few different moisturizers for different body parts. Choose a thick, creamy moisturizer for your body, a non-greasy, yet hydrating, formula for your hands and a lighter moisturizer that won’t clog pores for your face.
- Avoid super-hot showers: Showering in hot water can feel great after a long day out in the cold, but hot water can strip your skin of its natural oils and might even damage skin cells if the temperature is too high. Avoid turning the water temperature all the way up and opt for a lukewarm shower, instead, to protect your skin. Additionally, keep your showers short and apply moisturizer right after you get out to reinvigorate your skin.
- Take vitamins and supplements: There are many vitamins and minerals that your body needs to function that also help fight dry, itchy or inflamed skin. To keep your skin healthy, increase your intake of vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D and zinc. Additionally, you may want to consider adding a supplement like biotin to your routine. Biotin can help improve the health of your skin, hair and nails. Dry skin is also a symptom of biotin deficiency.
- Don’t forget the lips: Your lips don’t have oil glands like the rest of the body does, meaning they might lose moisture faster and get chapped more easily. Apply a natural lip balm multiple times a day to rehydrate them and protect them from getting chapped. Additionally, avoid licking your lips. While the action might make them feel less chapped in the moment, licking your lips can actually dry your lips out more.
- Use a humidifier: If the air inside your home is very dry, consider purchasing a humidifier to re-introduce moisture to the air. Place the humidifier in the room or rooms you spend the most time in. One ideal place is within the bedroom, so your skin can lock in moisture while you sleep.
The chilly, dry air of winter can be difficult to avoid, but if you take the necessary steps to protect your skin, you’ll avoid any short- or long-term issues with dryness, cracking or flaking. With a little extra care, your skin will stay soft and smooth as butter!