Top 10 Dry Skin Care Tips for Winter by Dr. Nicole Strickland

Dr. Nicole Strickland

1) Don’t take hot showers/ baths. Hot water will strip the skin of its moisture and natural oils. So even if you moisturize after you bathe, it becomes an uphill battle to replenish all the moisture your skin needs. Not saying that you need to take cold showers- mildly warm or lukewarm water is ok.

2) Limit bathing time to 10 minutes or less. Paradoxically, the longer you are in contact with the water, the more your skin gets depleted of its own moisture. Also, longer showers typically mean more contact time with soaps that naturally remove oils from your skin- see below for what type of soap you should use!

3) Use a moisturizing, fragrance free soap. Avoid bathing products containing fragrances, harsh chemicals, or physical exfoliants. A popular soap frequently recommended by dermatologists is Dove Sensitive Skin soap- it is very moisturizing and has a minimal scent. Use just enough soap to create a small lather, as too much soap can strip away your skin’s natural oils. 

4) Pat dry. Whether after bathing your entire body or washing your hands in the sink, gently pat dry with your towel. This allows some moisture to stay on the skin, which can be locked in further with moisturizer (see below!).

5) Use a cream or ointment-based fragrance-free moisturizer. Lotions contain more water, which quickly evaporates once applied to the skin. Creams and ointments also create more of a protective barrier to shield the skin from the harsh winter elements. Common moisturizers dermatologists recommend include Cerave Moisturizing Cream, Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream, and Eucerin Original Healing Cream. For very dry areas, such as elbows, knees, feet, hands, and even lips, ointments such as Vaseline and Aquaphor can be most effective. Make sure to use your moisturizer right after you bathe or wash your hands to lock in as much moisture as you can get. 

6) Moisturize at least twice daily. While daily moisturizing may be sufficient for the summer months, as for the reasons listed above you may have to rely more heavily on your moisturizers in the wintertime. An easy routine is to moisturize before you go to bed, and then again when you wake up in the morning.

7) Use a humidifier. Outdoor winter air is colder and has much less humidity, and the harsher winter winds can further pull away more moisture from the skin. The indoors during the winter are not much better, with heaters stripping moisture from the air.

8) Stay hydrated. As your body dehydrates, water gets pulled from various parts of your body, including your skin. Caffeine can also contribute to dehydration, so it may be worth to swap out your cup of coffee for a tall water bottle while on your holiday shopping run.

9) Don’t forget your nails. Nails are an important appendageal structure of the skin, and like your skin can get dehydrated, causing cracking and brittleness. Use a cuticle oil (or even vaseline!) around your cuticles and on the nail plates as often as you can, preferably each time after you wash your hands. Wearing gloves can protect your nails and hands from the harsh winter environment.

10) And as always… use sunscreen! Even though it is cold during the winter time, UV rays from the sun are still making their impact on your skin. Sun exposure can be dehydrating to the skin, and burned skin can make dry skin feel more painful. Although we are usually covered up during the winter, be aware of exposed skin such as the face, ears, and hands. Use a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher, reapply every 2 hours, and consider mineral-based sunscreens if you have sensitive skin (which can get even more sensitive during the winter).

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