Even if you don’t feel the cold weather in your bones yet, it will almost certainly show up on your skin. People of all ages tend to experience dry, dull, and irritated skin during the winter months—unless they are blessed enough to live in a warm climate, of course. This can lead to frequent acne breakouts and it can make the early signs of aging more pronounced. Fortunately, you’re not stuck with worn-out winter skin; finding the right therapies and products can help you both hydrate and rejuvenate your skin.
If you play your cards right, wintertime can actually become the ideal “recovery period” for your skin. How is this possible, you ask? It’s simple—our cold-weather habits, like staying indoors more often and bundling up, protect our skin from the ravages of sun damage. (Remember: The negative impact of UV rays accounts for an astonishing 80% of the visible signs of aging.) This makes winter the perfect season to get a number of different skin rejuvenation procedures (like the IPL Photo Facial) that are known to make the skin temporarily more sensitive to sun exposure. It also provides a span of several months where you can just focus on nourishing your skin and repairing any damage that was done during the previous summer. Before you can get started, however, you’ll need to understand how to adjust your skincare routine to correct cold-weather skin issues.
Why Cold Weather is Hard on Our Skin
Contrary to popular belief, winter skin problems are not caused solely by exposure to harsh winds and low temperatures (though these elements can play a role). Instead, winter skin issues are caused by a combination of numerous different factors:
- Indoor Heating
Air heated by central heating systems can be extremely dry. This impacts people in very cold climates throughout their almost every day: intensely heated air in homes, offices, or cars tends to leave the skin so dry that it can sometimes cause people to form deep fissures that bleed. Even if dry air doesn’t cause such painful symptoms, it still does damage. Because of the assault of dry, hot indoor air, the skin attempts to protect itself by thickening; essentially, the uppermost layer of the dermis stays in place longer and therefore retains more oil, more dead skin cells, and more debris. This can make the skin look dull and exaggerate minor imperfections like fine lines and age spots. It also makes the skin more prone to developing cracks.
While you can install a humidifier to help your skin stay moist at home, this usually only takes the edge off the symptoms of dry skin. Most of us spend 80% of our time at work and in our vehicles, so there’s virtually no avoiding the onslaught of dryness that accompanies wintertime. The only viable solution is therefore to protect your skin and seal in moisture using the right skincare products.
- Humidity Levels Fall
Compounding the effects of dry indoor air is the fact that outdoor humidity levels drop in the winter, too. Water in the environment is often “locked in” to snow and ice, rather than being vaporized by warm air. As a result, there’s less moisture in the air—and our skin.
The skin responds to this overall environmental dryness by producing more oil in an attempt to lock in moisture. Unfortunately, this additional oil simply isn’t sufficient to combat dryness on its own. The skin dries out—and cracks—regardless. Meanwhile, the excess oil builds up until it clogs our pores and creates the ideal environment for acne-causing bacteria to flourish. This is why breakouts occur more often in winter, even though your skin looks and feels drier.
- People Take Especially Hot Showers and Baths
No one wants to jump into a steaming shower right after coming in from a long, sweaty summer jogging session. In the winter, however, many people start using very hot showers or baths to warm up after being outside, or to soothe joint and muscles aches that are exacerbated by the cold. Alas, no matter how comforting this habit feels, it’s torture for our skin. The hot water strips your skin of the natural oils it has built up in order to protect itself from dry air, leaving it vulnerable to the effects of central heating. Furthermore, emerging from a steamy bathroom into the (very dry) rest of the house causes moisture to rapidly evaporate off the surface of the skin. This process tends to remove not only moisture that was absorbed during the shower or bath, but some of the skin’s natural moisture as well. That’s why most dermatologists recommend applying skincare products immediately after you leave the shower (though you should pat your skin dry with a towel first to prevent dilution).
If you don’t want to give up your daily hot shower or bath, in addition to promptly applying a moisturizer afterwards, you should change your cleansing habits. Use a scent-free and soap-free body wash in order to minimize skin irritation and don’t scrub your face and body too vigorously.
- Outdoor Conditions
Even those of us lucky enough to live in warmer climates can experience the effects of winter weather, such as colder winds and cloudy days, which can still be damaging on the skin. This effect is especially apparent on the lips and face, hence the prevalence of chapped lips in the winter. Once again, prevention is of the essence; make sure to layer on a high-quality lip balm and protective moisturizers every time you leave the house.
Choosing the Right Skincare Products for Winter
Changing indoor and outdoor conditions mean we need to change our skincare product regimen, too. Choosing extremely high-quality skincare products, and avoiding products that can cause dryness or irritation, is of the essence during winter. It’s important to remember that most drugstore moisturizers and anti-aging creams contain ingredients that can actually dry out your skin, such as chemical preservatives and harsh alcohols. Over the counter acne medications also tend to dry out the skin a great deal. (With the wrong products, treating winter breakouts is the last thing you want to do!)
Proper winter skincare is all about protection and nourishment. You’ll need to invest in professional-grade formulas that supply your skin with vitamins and minerals while also strengthening its natural barrier against dry air. The following products are some of our top choices for use during the colder months:
- Triple Lipid Restore by SkinCeuticals
Triple Lipid Restore, as the name suggests, refills the lipids in our skin cells. This both helps skin cells retain moisture and strengthens cellular walls so that the skin is less susceptible to damage and irritation. Not only does Triple Lipid Restore help seal in moisture, it gives skin the nutrients and protection it needs to repair itself effectively. This diminishes the visible signs of aging and helps prevent further damage to the skin. The Triple Lipid Restore also makes the skin fuller, firmer, and more supple. It also minimizes pore size and helps reduce areas of uneven skin tone.
- Sente Neck Firming Cream
The skin of the neck is very thin and delicate, making it susceptible to irritation (from dry air, scarves, hair styling products, etc.), dryness, and damage. Over time, this damage and dryness compound one another to create deep folds and wrinkles in the skin of the neck. Fortunately, you can prevent this from happening by using Sente Neck Firming Cream, which is specially formulated to hydrate and firm delicate neck skin. Sente Neck Firming Cream is designed using patented HAS Technology, and it contains a myriad of skin-reviving substances like caffeine, heparan sulfate, antioxidants, vitamins, and more. The active ingredients in the Sente Neck Firming Cream aren’t just amazing at hydrating the skin, they also encourage the production of elastin and collagen, so you can enjoy a natural lifting and tightening effect on the neck, too.
- Sente Intensive Eye Therapy
If you notice dark, deep circles under your eyes every winter, you’re not alone. According to a study conducted in 2010, winter can make a person’s eyes look five years older thanks to this bag-enhancing effect. This study, which was reported in the Daily Mail, looked at a group of 5,000 women throughout the seasons and found that under-eye darkness and eye-bag size both increased substantially during the colder months. That’s why we recommend Sente Intensive Eye Therapy: Not only does its advanced peptide formulation treat fine lines around the eyes by increasing collagen production, it has been shown to absorb the extra pigmentation that’s responsible for creating dark circles under the eyes.
Sente’s key ingredient is a Heparan Sulfate Analog, a powerful substance that lifts and tightens the area under the eyes by stimulating collagen production. It also contains a cutting-edge peptide formulation called Haloxyl that’s responsible for its under-eye circle fading ability. Sente’s benefits are three-fold: it’s for smoothing bags under the eyes, removing the dark circles under eyes, and offering precious hydration to the skin.
- ZO Skin Health
ZO Skin Health is a professional-grade skincare system (that is to say, its products are of the caliber seen in dermatology clinics, not the local drug store) developed by the renowned anti-aging expert Dr. Obagi. ZO Skin Health products include exfoliating cleansers that will not irritate your skin, specialized non-dehydrating acne treatments, advanced overnight skin repair creams, renewal creams for daytime use, sunscreens, and much more.
(Remember: You absolutely still need to wear a good sunscreen during the winter months, especially on areas that commonly remain uncovered, like the forehead and cheeks. Failing to do so will expose your skin to not only bright winter sunlight, but also UV radiation being reflected off of the snow.)
Additional Steps You Can Take to Keep Winter Skin Healthy
In addition to using the best skincare products available, you should remember that what you put in your body matters as much as what you put on your body. Eating a diet rich in nutrients that promote the maintenance of healthy skin, such as vitamins E, C, and D, can help to keep your skin glowing throughout the winter months. Additionally, you should remember to drink more water than you normally do—at least six to eight standard glasses per day—in order to help compensate for the lack of moisture in the air.
With the right skincare techniques, lifestyle adjustments, and a great collection of products, you can keep your skin hydrated, radiant, and supple all winter long. Better still, you can get a head start on nourishing and priming your skin for spring. This winter, say goodbye to dryness and hello to dazzling skin—With the assistance of ZO Skin Health, SkinCeuticals, and Sente, it’s easier than you think! Contact the office of Dr. Robert Singer to learn more about these incredible products.