Winter is hard on skin because cold temperatures, harsh winds, and low humidity remove moisture from the skin. These environmental factors impede the proper functioning of the skin’s lipids (fats), which normally help to prevent the skin from getting dry. Women who normally have drier skin will find that this problem gets worse during the winter months. The following tips will help you keep your skin looking its best during the winter months.


First, don’t overheat your home. Heating the air will reduce the humidity level in your home and lead to drier skin. Also, don’t sleep under an electric blanket. The heat from the electric blanket will suck out the moisture from your skin.


Do not take long hot showers. This will remove the natural moisturizing lipids (fats) from the skin. It is better to take a short lukewarm shower, no longer than ten minutes. Use either a non-irritating fragrance-free soap, a cleanser that contains oils and emollients, or a moisturizing body wash. Bubble baths are contraindicated. However, soothing oil can be added to bath water to moisten and help rehydrate the skin. Try to limit washing the face to twice a day, as more frequent washing will tend to dry the face excessively.


After your shower or bath, gently pat the skin until almost dry, and then apply a good body moisturizer while the skin is still damp. This will help lock in the moisture in the upper layers of the skin. In general, the drier the skin, the thicker the moisturizer you should use. We generally advise our patients to apply their moisturizers twice a day, but women with very dry skin might want to apply moisturizers even more frequently. Whenever you wash your hands, immediately apply a hand cream to seal in moisture.


In choosing a facial moisturizer, it is important to know what type of skin you have. The moisturizer should be applied after washing and gently towel drying, when the skin is still slightly damp. For normal skin, choose a highly protective day cream that contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, and provides SPF 20 or SPF 30 protection. If you have dry skin, first use a moisturizing facial cleanser followed by an emollient or oil-based moisturizer. Products like these contain glycerin, dimethicone, and hyaluronic acid. For very dry skin, try SkinMedica Dermal Repair Cream.


Humidifiers are very helpful to keep the skin from getting dry. Two or three humidifiers placed around the home will add moisture to the air, reduce the loss of moisture from the skin, and help prevent the skin from becoming cracked and itchy. If only one humidifier is available, place it in the bedroom at night to moisturize the air while you’re sleeping.


Remember that dry winter air will make the skin more sensitive to many skin care products. Products containing retinoids can be drying and their use during the winter will increase the chance of developing dry, flaky, or red skin. For this reason, women who use Retin-A or Renova might have to reduce the frequency of application during the winter. In addition, certain alpha hydroxy acids, such as glycolic acid, and beta hydroxy acids, such as salicylic acid, can exacerbate dry and irritated skin, and their use may also have to be diminished during the winter months.


It’s also important to continue to protect your skin from the sun’s ultraviolet rays, so use a makeup and moisturizer with at least SPF 15 on your face and a lip balm with sun block on your lips throughout the winter. Finally, make sure you eat a well-balanced diet, drink plenty of water, and moisturize, moisturize, moisturize!