Q: I have noticed that as we head into winter, my skin is feeling dryer. How should I take care of my skin during the winter months?


A: Winter is hard on skin because cold temperatures, harsh winds, and low humidity remove moisture from the skin and dry the skin out. These environmental factors impede the proper functioning of the skin’s lipids (fats), which normally help to keep the skin hydrated. The following tips will help you keep your skin healthy and 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.


Try to limit washing the face to twice a day, as more frequent washing will tend to dry the face excessively.


Take shorter showers, no longer than ten minutes, using lukewarm water. This will help preserve the natural moisturizing lipids (fats) in the skin. If you prefer a bath, you may add soothing oils to the bath water to moisten and help hydrate the skin.


After your shower or bath gently pat the skin until almost dry, then apply a good facial moisturizer and body moisturizer. 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 their moisturizers more frequently.


Remember that dry winter air will make the skin more sensitive to many anti-aging products. For this reason, women who use Retin-A, Renova, Tazorac, glycolic acid, or salicylic acid might have to reduce the frequency of application during the winter.


It is important to continue to protect your skin from the sun’s ultraviolet rays, so use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 on your face and exposed skin. In addition, use 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!


Taking care of the skin during winter months often requires some changes in the normal skin care regimen. By taking these basic steps, you can keep your skin looking healthy and beautiful all winter long.