woman checking skin in the mirror

Do you find that your skin seems to be much drier in the winter months?

This is a common problem, and the reason for it is due to the dry air that winter brings. Due to this dry air, the moisture in your skin ends up evaporating into the air at a much faster rate, leaving your skin looking and feeling dry and flaky.

Wondering what you can do about this?

Read on to find out…

Moisturize Properly

One of the best things that you can do for your skin in the winter months is keeping it moisturized.

Moisturizers are designed to form a protective layer over the surface of your skin, and they not only add moisture into your skin, but also prevent moisture from evaporating.

However, in order for your moisturizer to really work its magic, there are a few things that you need to know…

Firstly, applying moisturizer to dry skin will not get you very far. Instead, you need to be applying your moisturizer on damp skin.

Why?

Because this means that the moisturizer will lock in all of the excess moisture on your skin, so that the only place for it to go is deeper into your skin, rather than evaporating into the air.

The type of moisturizer that you use also makes a huge difference…

A light lotion will simply not cut it in the winter months, especially if you are suffering from dry skin.

Instead, you need a moisturizer that is thick and greasy, so that it is really able to seal moisture into your skin. Try to opt for an oil-based moisturizer rather than a water-based formula, as this will remain on your skin for much longer, and tends to be so much more effective for tackling dryness.

Use Hydrating Ingredients

In addition to using a quality moisturizer, a hydrating serum can also really help to nourish your skin. However, you need to make sure that you are applying this underneath your moisturizer, rather than on top of it.

Why?

Because your moisturizer will form a barrier on the surface of your skin, meaning that any products that you apply afterwards will have a much harder time penetrating your skin’s layers.

So, how do you know whether or not a product is actually going to hydrate your skin?

Well, it is likely to say so on the label, but these cannot always be believed. Instead, make sure that the products you use contain some of the following hydrating ingredients:

  • Glycerin – an inexpensive ingredient that is commonly used in moisturizers, as it draws water from the air into your skin
  • Shea Butter – packed with essential fatty acids and antioxidants to help keep your skin hydrated, soft and supple
Shea butter
Shea butter and oil
  • Ceramides – these are fats that are naturally found in your skin, and applying them topically will help to strengthen your skin’s natural barrier, encouraging it to retain more moisture
  • Hyaluronic Acid – one of the most powerful humectants out there, meaning that it draws moisture to the skin
  • Olive Oil – extremely moisturizing and filled with an array of vitamins and minerals
  • Urea – helps to melt away dead skin cells, meaning other active ingredients can properly penetrate your skin’s layers

Pay Attention to Packaging

You may think that the ingredients used in a skin care product are the most important factor to look out for, but the packaging of the product also makes a huge difference.

How?

As you may have noticed, sometimes skin care products come in jars with lids that you need to open, while other times they come in tubes or jars that have a pump dispenser.

Wondering which one is better?

Definitely the packaging that keeps your skin care products away from light and oxygen (usually pump dispensers or squeeze bottles). This means that jars with lids are best avoided.

Why?

Because when certain active ingredients are exposed to oxygen, as well as to light or heat, they end up being degraded, meaning that they will not be as powerful when it comes to healing your dry skin.

Avoid Harsh Ingredients and Products

There are so many skin care products out there that contain harsh ingredients, such as fragrances or alcohols.

When it comes to fragrances, these may help a product to smell better, but the term “fragrance” is actually more of an umbrella term, and can cover hundreds of different chemicals, meaning that you will never be quite sure of what is actually in the product you are using.

Alcohol is another common ingredient in many skin care products, because it gives products a much more lightweight feeling, enabling them to dry on the skin so much faster. It is also used as a preservative, but, in order for this to really work, a product needs to contain around 20% alcohol, which, as you can imagine, can really damage your skin.

However, you do need to be aware of the differences between good and bad alcohols

The “bad alcohols” are also referred to as simple alcohols, and include the following:

  • Ethanol
  • Methanol
  • Benzyl Alcohol
  • Denatured Alcohol
  • SD Alcohol

When used in the long-term, these alcohols can break down your skin’s natural protective barrier. This means that the moisture in your skin will evaporate into the air at a much faster rate, leaving your skin even drier than before.

On the other hand, there are also some “good alcohols” out there. These are known as fatty or wax alcohols, and include the following:

  • Cetyl Alcohol
  • Glycol
  • Stearyl Alcohol

These are often derived from natural sources, and are used to thicken skin care products, making them extremely effective at moisturizing and hydrating the skin.

Invest in a Humidifier

If you do not already own a humidifier, this is something that you may want to consider for the winter months.

You are likely using some sort of heating within your house, but this makes the air within your house so much drier, which, as you may have guessed by now, is not going to do your skin any favors.

A humidifier will help to counter this, by adding moisture back into the air. Not only will this benefit your skin, but your hair will also experience a boost in health as well, as the winter months can really take its toll on this too.

humidifier

Wondering what to set your humidifier at?

A level of between 40% to 60% humidity is ideal. While you may be tempted to go higher than this, too much humidity can lead to the formation of mold in your house.

Avoid Indoor Heat Sources

As mentioned above, using heating within your house can really dry out your skin, no matter whether you are using a fire or other forms of heating.

Of course, you need to stay warm, but this doesn’t mean you have to spend the night hugging your radiator. 

Try to keep your distance from this as much as possible, because the more time you spend next to your source of heating, the drier your skin will end up getting.

Don’t Forget About Sunscreen

Do you use sunscreen every day in the winter months?

If your answer is no, you are not alone, as many people seem to think that sunscreen is only necessary in the summer.

However, this is not at all true…

The sun’s UV rays will damage your skin year-round, and can even penetrate through thick cloud and glass, meaning that no matter what the weather outside may be, you still need to be wearing a sunscreen.

Wondering what sunscreen has to do with dry skin?

Well, UV rays cause long-term changes in the structure of your skin cells, and one of the most common results of this is dry skin, as well as premature aging and skin cancer.

Do your skin care products already contain SPF?

This does not mean that you should skip out on the sunscreen…

While the SPF in skin care products is a great bonus, this is not usually enough to give your skin the protection that it needs.

Do not forget to keep re-applying your sunscreen through the day, as your skin will end up vulnerable once the sunscreen rubs off.

Turn Down the Temperature

There is no denying that a hot, steamy shower feels incredible after a cold winter’s day, but this will only end up making your dry skin even worse.

How?

Well, hot water strips away your skin’s natural oils, which are essential for keeping your skin moisturized. Without these oils, your skin becomes much more vulnerable to the winter climate, and will experience damage at a much faster rate.

Try to keep the water at a tepid temperature, meaning that it should not be too much warmer than your skin’s natural temperature. Around 84 degrees is perfect, which is similar to the water temperature that you would experience in a heated swimming pool.

You also need to limit the amount of time that you spend in the water, keeping this to no longer than ten minutes.

Is your dry skin feeling itchy?

If so, you may want to give an oatmeal bath a try. Oatmeal contains compounds that are able to really soothe and heal the skin, and you are likely to notice an immediate difference after you step out of the bath.

Of course, remember to keep the water warm rather than hot, and do not soak in it for too long, otherwise you will be undoing all of the good that the oatmeal has brought to your skin.

Protect Those Hands

The skin on your hands is actually thinner than the skin on the rest of your body, and also does not contain as many oil glands.

What does this mean?

It means that your hands are more susceptible to dryness than the rest of your body. Since dry skin leads to premature aging, including lines and wrinkles, this is why the hands are often a giveaway when it comes to trying to guess a person’s age.

One way to protect your hands from the winter climate is by donning a pair of gloves, but wool gloves can actually irritate dry skin.

Need a pair of wool gloves to keep you warm?

If so, place some thin cotton gloves over your hands first, before putting the wool gloves on over these. Not only will this method protect the skin on your hands, but the extra layer of fabric will give you an extra layer of warmth.

If your gloves happen to become wet…

Make sure that you refrain from placing them onto your hands. Wet gloves will only exacerbate your dryness, resulting in itchy and cracked skin.

A hand cream can also make a huge difference, but, as mentioned above, make sure that you choose one that does not contain any harsh ingredients. Applying a hand cream to your hands before placing your cotton gloves on will really help to ensure that the cream properly soaks into your skin, giving your hands the moisture and protection that they need.

hand cream

Be Gentle When Exfoliating

When your skin starts to flake or peel during the winter, it can be tempting to exfoliate more often, so that you can scrub all of this off.

However, you need to be especially careful when exfoliating dry skin, because using the wrong exfoliant, or exfoliating too often, can cause long-term damage.

Exfoliating is quite a complex topic, and there are so many different ways to go about doing this. It is important that you experiment with the different methods of exfoliation, so that you can decide for yourself which one seems to benefit your skin the most.

For many people, dry skin is pretty much inevitable during the winter months, but this really does not need to be the case. By staying ahead of any issues you know are going to arise, you will be able to soothe your skin before the dryness gets too bad, and will be able to enjoy a supple and dewy complexion throughout the winter season.