The temperatures are dropping. That means it’s time for hot cocoa, jeans over boots, and… cracked skin? That can’t be right.
When winter falls, it’s important to take special care of your stressed skin. Without the right hydration routine, your skin is bound to dry out — and lead to all sorts of unsavory issues.
So, let’s talk about winter skin. What does it look like, why does skin dryness increase, and what can you do about it? We’re always here to help.
Why does winter hurt your skin?
The primary reason colder temperatures hurt your skin is a loss of humidity (the amount of water vapor in the air). When the air outside becomes drier, your skin tends to follow. And considering your skin is the body’s largest organ — this affects your entire system.
The key to combating winter skin is to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. You can do this using topical treatments and by making efforts to hydrate from the inside out.
Common winter skin issues
Dealing with cold dry air in any climate leads to a variety of skin problems. Believe it or not, you can even expect serious dry skin symptoms in temperate regions during winter! But those who live in or visit a colder climate should be especially diligent about dry skin care and look out for the following signs:
- Chapped lips. Your lips can peel, crack, and even bleed during winter when your natural body oils dry up.
- Dry hands. One of the first places you’ll notice dry skin show up is your hands, which are often exposed to natural elements even when the rest of you is well covered. Cracked knuckle skin is just the beginning — hands may become quick to cut, bleed, and wrinkle when they become excessively dry.
- Red skin. When your skin becomes dehydrated enough, it can become red and painful. This might be a sign of winter rash. Other symptoms of the condition include flaking, bumps, blisters, and swelling.
- Itchy skin. Stressed skin can also become itchy, especially as it becomes flaky. Making matters worse, scratching dry skin can be quite painful.
- Dandruff. Your scalp may also bear the brunt of winter conditions. Many people experience dry scalp during winter months.
Changing your skincare routine for colder weather
So, what can we do to keep cracking, flaking, and redness at bay? Not to mention that dandruff we all hate. You don’t need to be a skincare guru to adapt to winter weather skin and body care.
Just follow these habits to create a healthier winter skincare regimen.
- Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. You need to up your moisturizing game in the winter. Consider a thicker lotion than you typically use, such as a cream-based moisturizer, which can provide thicker protection. You’ll want to moisturize each time you get out of the shower and before bed. Stick to hypoallergenic, fragrance-free cream.
- Switch to a new hand cream. Look for a vitamin-B ingredient in your lotion or cream, such as niacinamide, for even better results. Apply to your favorite hand cream periodically throughout the day for the best results.
- Introduce oils into your routine. Serums and facial oils can help alleviate dryness during winter. Even people with traditionally oily skin will see hydrating benefits during the winter from a product like U.SK Precious Elixir, which increases skin vitality and reduces stress proteins.
- Wear a hair mask. Your hair is a part of the integumentary system, which also includes your skin and nails. And just as your skin and nails can grow dry and/or brittle, your hair can dry out. You may want to try an oil treatment or hair mask in the winter to keep hair healthy.
- Change your shampoo. Dry scalp shampoo is a helpful tool against flaking skin on your head. Try a dandruff shampoo with salicylic acid, sulfur, zinc pyrithione (pyrithione zinc), coal tar, selenium sulfide, or ketoconazole as the primary ingredient.
- Drink more water. You can also hydrate your skin the old fashioned way. Make sure you drink enough water in the winter to help keep your skin cells as moisturized as possible and avoid stressed skin.
- Use more SPF. Yes, even when the sun is hiding behind the clouds, sunscreen is important. You can still get a sunburn in winter. This only exacerbates dry skin. If you go skiing, snowshoeing, or spend any considerable amount of time outside this winter, choose a higher number SPF. Go with a product like TIZO 3 for a tinted sunscreen that offers a matte finish while protecting you from UVA and UVB rays.
- Run a humidifier. You can help your skin while you’re literally sitting on the couch. Run a humidifier machine, which pumps moisture back into the air inside your home. This small change in daily life can make a major change to the health of your skin.
- Wear layers outdoors. Layer up, everyone! Keeping the moisture trapped in your skin is a lot easier when you’re wearing gloves and a jacket and a scarf and… well, as many layers as you need. Breathable fabrics allow you to stay warm without irritating already dry skin.
Following these lifestyle changes creates a noticeable difference in your skin during winter months. If you currently exfoliate, try a gentler option that will eliminate dry skin cells without irritating red or cracked skin. If your skin is dry enough to crack, you may want to pause exfoliation altogether until you get more hydrated.
In a hurry? If you don’t want a 5-step plan to care for your skin, stick to gentle soap and a good moisturizer with SPF protection. These basics will keep you hydrated. You can upgrade to oils and serums later if you change your mind.
When to call the doctor
You can make a lot of changes to your skincare at home with the help of a high-quality skincare box and some planning. But when is it time to call a dermatologist?
When you find yourself in pain, with unexplained blisters or bumps, or if you have skin that frequently bleeds — you should call your doctor for a consultation. Some winter skin issues are more than a good moisturizer can tackle. Chronic dryness that seems “normal” but doesn’t respond to hydration and moisturizer may also warrant a trip to the doc to make sure something more serious than dry skin is not at play.
Dry skin is a common winter woe, but it doesn’t have to be! Add a thicker moisturizing cream to your daily routine, drink more water, run a humidifier at home, switch to dry scalp shampoo, and call your doctor if you experience pain or chronic skin redness.