With the new year came harsh winter weather, and you may have noticed that it’s taking a toll on your skin. Cold, skin-chapping winds, less-than-humid air from even the most modern of furnaces and oh-so-necessary hot baths and showers can all draw moisture from our skin and leave us with redness, flakes and even scales. That’s doubly true if you’re prone to conditions like rosacea or eczema. Here we explain how to prevent and treat dryness, plus how to maintain that soft skin once you’ve got it back. It’ll take you from a scaly mystique, to a soft and fair Jennifer Lawrence. No, seriously, it will!
Not scaly or dry yet? That’s great, but don’t take that supple skin for granted. You have to take care of it to keep it soft. Moisturize regularly, especially after bathing. Although it feels great to have a hot shower after coming in from the cold, it’s not great for your skin. Your best bet is to try and dial down the temperature a little, and make sure to lotion up within minutes of stepping out. You want to seal in the moisture in your skin as soon as possible.
Try adding a moisturizing serum to your skincare routine before using your regular moisturizer, because it will ensure that your skin stays dewy and soft if your regular moisturizer isn’t enough for the harsh weather.
Try: Pure and Simple Hydration Serum, $44.95 at Pure and Simple.
For body, apply moisturizing lotion at least once a day, again, especially after bathing. Products with shea butter help seal in moisture so you stay moisturized all day long.
Try: Lubriderm Skin Nourishing Shea and Cocoa Butter Lotion, $9 at London Drugs.
Already have scaly skin or flare-ups of eczema or rosacea? Here’s how to treat them—and fast. Simple, daily moisturizing won’t be enough. You’ll need to be careful with how you cleanse skin and use a moisturizing product made specifically for dry, irritated skin. For your face, try a gentle, soothing cleanser that won’t strip skin of existing moisture and follow with a moisturizer made for sensitive skin types. Even if you don’t have rosacea, a deeply moisturizing product for redness will help calm your dry skin, too.
Try: B.Kamins Soothing Cleanser, $15 at Murale.
Try: Clinique Redness Solutions Daily Relief Cream, $54 at Clinique.
For body, try a soothing body wash and moisturizer made to fight scales and dryness. Look for soothing ingredients like vitamin E, aloe vera and oatmeal, which relieves swelling, inflammation and itchiness.
Try: Avon Moisture Therapy Derma Soothing Body Wash, $12 at Avon .
Try: Polysporin Eczema Essentials Daily Moisturizing Cream, $20 at Well.ca .
To keep skin soft and supple after all that work, try swapping your sensitive skin products for something more moisturizing. Now that your skin is a little less irritated, you’ll want to keep the moisture up, but don’t stop using your skin-conditioning cleansers. For your face, a deeply moisturizing cleanser and balm can help previously dry skin stay moisturized. These balms are usually a mix of oils and moisturizers and are applied to the skin, then buffed off using a soft cloth. They easily remove makeup and impurities and leave the skin feeling soft. On particularly harsh weather days or when participating in outdoor winter sports, balms like these can be used on top of moisturizer to protect skin from the wind.
Try: Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm,$35 at Clinique.
Follow with a deeply hydrating lotion that won’t exacerbate sensitive skin. Look for products with natural oils like avocado, coconut or safflower and soothing ingredients like aloe vera.
Try: Jurlique Calendula Cream, $42 at Pure and Simple.
For your body, once your scales are gone, you can switch back to a daily moisturizer that’s rich enough to keep dryness at bay. A formula featuring oats will ward off itchiness while shea butter will seal in that moisture.
Try: Aveeno Skin Relief Moisturizing Lotion, $15.99 at London Drugs.
How to treat other areas
Hands, feet and scalp may also suffer when the weather gets cold. Keep them just as soft as your dewy complexion with these tips:
Invest in a hand product that’s a balm or protector as opposed to a simple cream or lotion. The difference in wording just means that you’ll get a thicker, more protective product that will seal in moisture and protect vulnerable hands from harsh weather and the near-constant washing that happens during cold season.
Try: The Body Shop Hemp Hand Protector, $20 at The Body Shop.
You may need to give your feet a buffing before moisturizing because dry, dead skin doesn’t let moisture in very well. It basically acts as a barrier preventing moisture from being absorbed. Soak feet in warm water for 10 minutes, then use a pumice stone or a body scrub to slough off dead skin. Follow with a glycerin-based lotion that will act as a barrier, keeping moisture in.
Try: Burt’s Bees Coconut Foot Creme, $15 at Well.ca.
Dry weather can lead to a flaky, itchy or tight feeling scalp. A natural way to both rid your scalp of flakes and treat future flakes is with a combination of coconut oil and tee tree oil. The coconut oil will moisturize scalp and has anti fungal properties—fungus can be the culprit behind dandruff. Tea tree oil is a natural antiseptic with antimicrobial properties, which also help with flake-causing fungus, while also giving your scalp a good cleansing. Apply a mix of about five tablespoons of coconut oil with between two and four drops of tea tree oil to scalp and massage. Leave it on for 20 minutes then rinse with shampoo.
And don’t forget to drink water. Water hydrates from the inside, and, well, you should be drinking more anyway.