The key to happy, healthy skin year-round is maintaining your skin’s barrier, and these tips and product suggestions can help until spring has sprung once again.
1-Don’t stash the sunscreen.
Sun exposure is an issue 365 days a year—even when it’s cloudy. Simply walking to and from your car (and driving) leaves skin vulnerable to damaging UV rays that can lead to visible signs of aging and skin cancer down the line. Sun damage makes its presence known in the form of fine lines, wrinkles and discoloration, and causes the skin to feel rough and dry. The best way to prevent these changes is to wear sunscreen every day, rain or shine, regardless of season. While you may be tempted to lower the SPF for fall, this isn’t an option if you live in high-altitude or southern climes. One to try: NeoStrata Skin Active Matrix Support SPF 30 contains potent retinol and antioxidants plus SPF30 protection.
2-Opt for a hard-working moisturizer.
Hydration is just one piece of the skincare puzzle, and your moisturizer should meet numerous anti-aging and skin-health needs. Definitely look for a product that contains antioxidants, and depending on your skin’s unique challenges, anti-inflammatory ingredients or problem-specific formulations that can help address concerns like acne, dark spots and other issues beyond dryness. Bottom line, a multitasking moisturizer can help save you time and money since one jar or two can take the place of a handful of products. One to try: In addition to extra hydration, Alastin Ultra Nourishing Moisturizer gives your skin a dose of antioxidants, anti-aging peptides, soothing botanicals and barrier-strengthening lipids.
3-Remember to exfoliate.
Winter skin is often plagued with dryness and flaking despite your best moisturizing efforts. The simplest way to smooth things over is with gentle exfoliation—but gentle is the key word here since the change in weather may have thrown your skin’s barrier off kilter. Look for a mask that uses enzymes to literally melt dull, dry skin cells away. One to try: DefenAge 2-Minute Reveal Masque is a creamy (read: hydrating) formula packed with three types of enzymes and sugar crystals that melt as you rub to keep irritating friction to a minimum. You won’t believe how soft your skin feels—and how radiant it looks—after just two minutes.
4-Skip the soap.
You’re not doing your skin any favors by using actual soap, since harsh surfactants strip the skin of its essential lipids and do a number on your skin’s barrier. A gentle cleanser is a must year-round, especially if you have dry or sensitive skin. Think of it this way… Never use a cleanser that is harsher than the weather outside, and that includes skin from the neck down. And definitely don’t scrub, because you can’t scour away dry skin. One to try: Most dermatologists will tell you that you can never go wrong with Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser.
5-Apply a hydrator after you shower.
We all love a nice, relaxing soak (especially when it’s cold outside), but added bath oil to the water isn’t the most effective way to soften and smooth your skin. First, most of the oil winds up going down the drain—and it also makes the tub slippery and potentially dangerous. Bath oils can also encourage you to soak for longer periods of time, and that isn't good for dry skin either. Oils—and moisturizers in general—are best applied post-bath or shower while skin is still damp. One to try: ZO Skin Health Oraser Body Emulsion Plus is more than just a moisturizer for skin from the neck down. In addition to hydrating dry skin, this anti-aging powerhouse provides antioxidants, exfoliates to smooth rough spots, reinforces the skin’s barrier and helps fade those pesky age spots.
6- Don't forget your lips.
The lips lack oil glands, which is why they are so prone to chapping, especially when the mercury drops. To keep them soft and supple, try to wear an emollient lip gloss or lip balm day and night, and make sure it doesn't contain any irritating ingredients like peppermint or menthol. One to try: Packed with ceramides, cholesterol and fatty acids (the same components of the skin’s barrier), EpiCerum-L Lip Care provides soothing, smoothing and long-lasting moisture. Use regularly to heal existing cracks and prevent them from returning.
Preparing your skin for colder weather—and caring for it until spring—isn’t all that difficult. Just follow these basic rules and you will have happy, hydrated skin all winter long!
Wendy Lewis is President of Wendy Lewis & Co Ltd, author of 12 books including Aesthetic Clinic Marketing in the Digital Age (CRCPress), and Editor in Chief of Beautyinthebag.com