With temperatures plummeting throughout most of the U.S., I continue to be bombarded with questions surrounding what kind of impact this harsh weather has on the skin.
Surprisingly, many ask if colder temperatures have medicinal or anti-aging benefits - but to date, there are no known anti-aging benefits resulting from very cold temperatures. In fact, low temperatures can make skin dry, raw and irritated. Exposing your skin to cold temperatures (such as winter weather and wind) can promote and contribute to aging.
So, how should you protect your skin during the winter months?
I've always recommended patients use a thicker, richer moisturizer to create a barrier from the elements. I also suggest that patients use moisturizers indoors during the winter months because heated rooms can cause skin to become dry and dehydrated. Using a humidifier is also a good idea.
With that said, it's important to avoid both extremely hot and extremely cold temperatures due to the negative impact on skin.
But the cold can also be very healing in specific settings. If you are fighting puffiness under or around your eyes, applying a cool compress has soothing effects and can reduce inflammation. Cool compresses may also reduce swelling associated with redness in the eye area.
I also recommend the application of cold compresses for the immediate treatment of a thermal or chemical burn. I recommend putting the affected area in cold water (but not ice water) for up to 30 minutes immediately after the burn. This type of cold treatment has been shown to reduce the total area of the burn as well as its depth.
Dr. Neil Sadick is one of the most renowned dermatologists and researchers whose multiple discoveries have strongly influenced and transformed the future of dermatology. He is a Professor of Dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College and President of the Cosmetic Surgery Foundation. Dr. Sadick is author, or co-author, of more than 500 articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals and has contributed more than 75 chapters of medical books. Read more at