If you’re like many people, your skin gets dry in the winter. The cold, dry air makes skin feel tight and itchy, and it seems that no matter what you do, your skin is always cracking or flaking. Read on to learn why winter is so drying for the skin and how you can keep your skin healthy and hydrated despite the harsh, cold weather.
What Causes Dry Skin in the Winter?
One of the main reasons winter causes dry skin has to do with humidity. During the colder seasons, humidity levels drop, and this causes water to evaporate more quickly. Because your skin is more than 60 percent water, this sucks the moisture out of your skin, making it feel tight and dry.
Another contributing factor is the cold and how we as human beings respond to it. Inventions such as central heating systems keep us warm, but while doing so, they also pull moisture from the air. The decrease in ambient moisture levels means less moisture for your skin to absorb naturally. And if you’ve ever taken a piping hot shower to get warm in the winter, you may have unintentionally worsened your dry skin, as hot water is very damaging to the skin.
One last culprit is winter weather. Precipitation such as snow, sleet, hail, and rain can actually strip your skin of its natural moisturizing oils. Harsh winter winds may also make your skin feel flaky or chapped. Combined with low humidity and our heating habits and mechanisms, these can all cause your skin to become drier in winter than it normally is during the warmer seasons.
How to Avoid Dry Skin in Winter
Here are a few of our dermatologist-recommended tips to help you keep your skin hydrated this winter.
1. Increase Humidity
If possible, increase the humidity levels where you live and work. Get a humidifier for your office and your bedroom. Be sure to keep it clean and refill the water tank often. This will increase humidity in the air, and it won’t feel so dry around you.
2. Don’t Overheat
Everyone wants to stay warm in cold weather, but be careful not to overdo it. Don’t crank the heater up too high; keep it at a moderately warm temperature. If you’re still feeling chilly, throw on a sweater or grab a blanket. This will keep more moisture in the air around you (and it may even help you save on your heating bill!). Take short, warm baths or showers instead of long, hot ones to avoid excessively drying out your skin.
3. Hydrate from the Inside
Hydration starts with your diet. If you aren’t drinking enough water, dry skin will be one of the first signs. Drink more water to give your body what it needs to keep your skin as hydrated as possible. Consider adjusting your diet to include more water-based foods, such as soups, cucumbers, watermelon, and fruit smoothies. You may also want to eat more foods with good, healthy fats (like omega-3 fatty acids), such as salmon, flaxseeds, walnuts, or soybeans. These can help replenish your skin’s natural fats to keep your skin plump and supple.
4. Moisturize Your Skin
It’s best to change up your moisturizing routine with the seasons. If you normally use a light hydrating lotion in the summer, switch to a heavier hydrating cream with ceramides and/or hyaluronic acid in the winter. If you normally only moisturize once a day, start doing it in the morning and at night. This will help build up your skin’s protective barrier and combat dryness.
5. Exfoliate Regularly
Dry, damaged skin in winter will continue to appear dry and damaged if you don’t exfoliate it. Exfoliation is an important part of skin care year-round. Consider regular facials or scrubs in the winter, but be careful not to overdo them, as too much scrubbing is harsh on the skin. Use a gentle washcloth or facial brush to help get rid of the dead skin cells and reveal the healthier skin beneath.
6. Focus on Full Body Hydration
Your face isn’t the only area that gets dry in winter. Make sure the skin all over your whole body is well hydrated by applying moisturizing oils, creams, or lotions. Don’t forget about the backs of your hands, as they are often exposed to the dry air and need extra attention. If you normally don’t use much lotion, we strongly suggest you adopt the habit during the winter. You will feel much better, and your skin will thank you!
7. Keep Using Sunscreen
The sun may appear less intense in the winter, but its rays can still be just as damaging. It’s important to keep using sunscreen throughout the winter. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 15 whenever you go outside during the day. There are many great sunscreens with built-in moisturizers that you can use to address both of these needs at once. We hope that you will follow these winter skin care essentials to keep your skin hydrated during the winter. For more skin care advice, please contact our office to speak with one of our board-certified dermatologists. Call Medovate at (847) 499-5500 to schedule your appointment today.