With the cold weather season rapidly approaching, caring for dry skin may become more challenging. When the temperatures drop, so do the humidity levels, which leaves dry skin feeling extra tight and thirsty. Here are some tips on how to protect your skin and keep it healthy throughout the colder months of the year, as well as tips on how to care for your skin if it is already dry and irritated.
Use Mild Facial Cleansers
Avoid harsh cleansers containing fragrance, sulfates or alcohol, and opt for a gentle cleanser that has moisturizing properties. Harsh cleansers may disrupt the pH balance of your skin and cause dryness and irritation. Any cleanser that makes your skin feel "squeaky" clean is probably too harsh. If you wear makeup, swap your face wipes with a cleansing oil.
Switch to a Face Oil
Instead of using a water-based moisturizer, try a face oil. After cleansing your face, while your skin is still damp, dispense about 3 to 5 drops of oil into the palm of your hands and then gently pat it into the skin. Face oils offer the benefit of conditioning the skin, keeping it hydrated and protecting it from the cold air and wind by sealing in moisture.
Exfoliating is very important because it helps to get rid of dead skin cells and encourages skin cell renewal. Moreover, a layer of dead skin cells won’t allow your face oil to penetrate the skin deeply. However, especially when the skin is feeling extra dry, it is important to use a gentle product and not to overdo it. Instead of using a physical exfoliator, which may aggravate your skin if it's already irritated by the weather, use a gentle chemical exfoliator, such as fruit enzyme-based face masks like pumpkin and papaya, which work well for this purpose.
Soothe Dry, Irritated Skin
If dry and irritated skin occur, look for products that contain key ingredients with emollient and humectant properties. Emollient ingredients soften and condition the skin, while humectant ingredients help to retain moisture and protect from environmental aggressors, such as cold, dry air. Examples of emollient ingredients are plant oils, butters like cocoa, shea, mango and lanolin. Examples of humectant ingredients are glycerin, aloe and honey. Here are three of the most common examples of skin discomfort that you may experience during the cold seasons:
- Redness around the nose: If the skin around your nose gets inflamed, as it often happen when you get a cold, wash it with a mild cleanser and then apply a rich balm as overnight treatment (like Weleda Cold Cream or Metta Face Balm).
- Cracked lips: Chapped or cracked lips are not only visually unappealing, but also terribly uncomfortable. Apply plenty of lip balm throughout the day and every night before going to bed, until your lips have healed. Avoid lip balms with fragrances, which may only worsen the irritation. Try Waxelene or Henné Organics Lip Balm.
- Chapped hands: Cold, dry air and frequent hand washing may cause your hands to chap and become dry. Not only is it a cause of great discomfort, but it also completely defeats the purpose of hand washing, as broken skin cannot protect us from sickness. Diligently applying a hand cream can help prevent dryness, but if your hands still get very dry and chapped, use a thick balm that contains shea butter, cocoa butter or beeswax. A very effective hand balm is the Kahina Giving Beauty Fez Hand and Body Balm.
Here are a few more things you can do to keep your skin healthy and hydrated during winter:
- Drink plenty of water. If you don’t feel thirsty and struggle with taking in enough liquids, try to drink tea, sweetened with a little raw honey. Dehydrated skin cells have a slower turnover rate, which results in dull skin and more visible fine lines.
- Eat homemade soups, broths and plenty of local seasonal produce to provide your body with additional liquids and protective nutrients.
- Use a humidifier. Outdoor cold air is already so drying that you may want to use a humidifier at home to help your skin to stay moisturized.