Style + Beauty

Winter Skin Secrets

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Dry, rough, itchy. How are you supposed to stay supple and smooth ‘til spring?

As the effects of winter’s chill outside— and overheated rooms inside —conspire to make your skin look and feel miserable, it’s time to re-think your skincare regimen.

First, you need to know why your skin is suffering, and the reason is dehydration. Cold air and freezing wind might be obvious causes, but the real problem starts at home. As celebrity facialist Joanna Vargas points out, the dry, hot indoor environment you sleep in (and work in, for that matter) depletes the skin’s moisture even further. So instead of your body using the night hours to restore itself, it’s being dehydrated further, affecting its ability to properly repair skin and other tissue.

Luckily, help is just a humidifier away. It’s simple to use and literally works while you sleep, bringing needed moisture back to the bedroom to help your skin heal like it should. Vargas adds, however, that the challenge to effective winter skin care extends from the bedroom to the bath. After all, what could be better than a nice hot shower on a cold winter’s morning? Turns out, a lukewarm one. Extreme temperatures throw off the skin’s delicate balance, leading to dry patches and dehydrated skin.

Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi, Co-Director of the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery, agrees on both points and adds a few of her own…starting with chapped lips. The number one rule to remember is easy— don’t lick them! Wind and cold temperatures cause enough damage without your tongue making it worse. The second rule? Do use lots of lip balm, with formulas containing dimethicone or petrolatum.

Now how about help for those cracked hands? During flu season, when hand-sanitizers kill the germs and dry out skin at the same time, Dr. Tanzi recommends washing with more gentle products like Cetaphil, and before bed applying Vaseline or a thick hand cream, then covering with thin cotton gloves overnight.

And who hasn’t experienced the “winter itchies” on their legs? To avoid them, don’t soap your legs in the shower, towel dry lightly, and while your legs are still damp apply a moisturizer with petrolatum or shea butter to lock in hydration. Finally, to carry the hydrating tips down to your toes (and heels) Dr. Stafford Broumand, a New York plastic surgeon, recommends another bedtime regimen — a thick layer of Vaseline on the feet, covered up by socks, will yield soft, smooth skin in the morning.

Dr. Broumand also recommends fortifying all these efforts with Vitamin B5. Its hyaluronic acid replenishes the moisture in the layers of the epidermis, so you can fight dehydration inside and out!