Changing temperatures mean a change of routine, no matter which part of the world you live in. Knowing a little about how skin functions in the winter, and tweaking a few habits, can make all the difference between a dull winter complexion and glowing radiance.
* Start the day with a hot shower… but before you get out switch to cold water for about fifteen seconds. Then turn up the heat a little, and down again to repeat the process for about two minutes. “Why would I want to do that?!” I hear you cry! This is a simple hydrotherapy technique which revitalizes the skin by stimulating the flow of blood through the body. It is both invigorating and highly beneficial to the skin. So even though you may not really enjoy the process, just think of the all the good it’s doing you!
* Use a good moisturizer. Choose a highly protective day cream which contains zinc oxide, and provides SPF30 protection to form a barrier against the elements. Creamier, water-in-oil emulsions are best. And don’t forget about your lips. Chapped lips are often the most noticeable problem for a lady in the winter. Use a highly moisturizing lip balm which provides a protective barrier, with vitamin E for good elasticity.
* Exfoliate at least twice a week. This will remove dead cells and allow the skin to absorb extra moisture. The oil which we all complain about in the Summer is no longer being produced because of cooler winter temperatures and central heating. Therefore the skin looses the water which should be retained in the lower dermis of the skin. This can lead to premature aging of the skin and fine lines, whilst your skin can appear puffy and grey. Nice!
* Drink a glass of hot water with lemon. This Chinese herbal remedy is a sure-fire method of energizing your body. It will de-tox your entire system, including the liver and gall bladder. This means that your body will be able to clean the blood faster to get rid of toxins responsible for bad skin.
* Simply sleep! Money can’t buy the benefits of a good nights’ rest. Your oxygen levels will drop if you don’t get enough sleep, meaning that your cells will not be renewed as quickly. This is when degenerative skin aging sets in. Try to get seven, if not eight or nine hours of rest a night to achieve absolutely painless benefits. It’s ideal!
The low humidity common in many parts of the United States during winter can cause dry, irritated skin. When skin becomes dry and irritated, eczema can flare. Here are some tips to help skin feel more comfortable during winter or anytime the air is dry:
1. Use a humidifier. With the heat on and the windows closed, the air inside can become very dry in the winter, making the dryness and itching of eczema even worse. Use a humidifier to place moisture in the air. If you don’t want to invest in an expensive humidifying system, smaller, relatively inexpensive humidifiers can be obtained at a local drug store. Placing two or three of these around your home will help to humidify the dry air. This can keep skin from drying and becoming cracked and itchy.
2. Switch to an oil-based moisturizer and moisturize frequently. The more oil a moisturizer contains the more effectively it protects against moisture loss. Moisturizers that come in ointment form contain the most oil because an ointment, by definition, consists of 80% oil and 20% water. This water-in-oil emulsion forms a protective layer on the skin and makes it more “moisturizing” than creams and lotions. Ointments are especially beneficial when humidity is low. Ointments should not be used on areas of the body that tend to get hot and sweaty.
3. Before Going Outside in Winter:
Apply a heavy layer of moisturizing broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher to the face, hands, and any other skin that may be exposed. This will act as a barrier to help protect against the harsh elements and is especially important if you will be outside for any length of time. Sunscreen is important in winter as the sun’s reflective powers are great year round – 17% on the sand and 80% on the snow. Today, several products are available that combine oily, moisturizing cream with sunscreen. If you are unsure of which product to use, ask a dermatologist.
Grab those gloves. Protecting hands from the cold air and low humidity plays an important role in preventing flare-ups. Make sure the gloves are made from material that does not irritate your skin. Some patients find that wearing a cotton mitten next to the skin and a woolen mitten over the cotton one, keeps hands warm and dry.
4. Dress in layers. The most common triggers of the scratch/itch cycle are sweating and overheating. Wearing layers allows you to remove clothing as needed to prevent overheating. Be sure to wear loose-fitting cotton fabrics next to your skin.
5. Shed wet clothes and shoes immediately. These can irritate the skin and cause a flare-up