If you live in a place where the mercury has dropped enough for  snow to start falling, chances are you’re also starting to deal with “winter skin” right about now: cheeks are getting rough and dry, lips are chapping… and depending on the severity of the weather outside, skin can even flake, crack, or erupt into hives or eczema. This just isn’t a season that’s kind to skin at all. Fortunately, there are ways to combat the damage caused by freezing winds, snow, and hail, and a few of these handy techniques are listed below.

Change Your Moisturizer

The lightweight moisturizer you use in summertime isn’t going to cut it during the winter. To fend off cold damage to your skin in winter, opt for creams that have a heavier oil content, as the oils will create a protective layer on the skin’s surface. Creams rich in avocado or sweet almond oil are ideal for your face, but try to avoid using cocoa or shea butter on facial skin, as it can clog pores.  If you’re prone to breakouts, talk to an aesthetician or dermatologist who can recommend a cream that’s right for your skin type.

Don’t forget that the skin on your entire body needs special care at this time of year: though you’ll see and feel the damage cold weather can cause to hands and feet (roughness, cracking around knuckles and cuticles, etc.) you might not notice dry patches on your legs or arms until they start to itch or flake. This is where the cocoa and shea butters come in: a good body lotion will replenish the moisture in your limbs as well as your cheeks, leaving you soft and supple all over.

Speaking of cream…

Sunscreen

If you spend a lot of time outside, don’t forget to wear sunscreen! Your skin can be subjected to just as much UV damage in wintertime as in summer, so don’t hesitate to put on a layer of SPF 15 before putting on your makeup.

Exfoliate

Gentle exfoliation once a week will help to remove dry, dead skin from your cheeks and forehead, but don’t go overboard with it! Your skin takes a lot of damage from the weather outside, and scouring it too much will actually increase wear and tear, and will do more harm than good.

For the rest of your body, a homemade exfoliant such as a salt or sugar scrub can do wonders to slough off dead skin cells and leave you soft and smooth all over.

Wear Lip Balm

The skin on your lips is the thinnest and most sensitive on your entire body, so be sure to take proper care of them by protecting them from cold damage—that means you too, guys. It’s not a lot of fun to kiss someone whose lips are flaking apart like a dry old phone book. Aim for unflavoured lip balms with a carnauba or beeswax base (stick to the former if you’re vegan), and apply it regularly. It’s best to avoid using petroleum jelly as a lip balm, though; you really don’t want an oil industry by-product on your face, do you? Besides, petroleum jelly isn’t absorbed by the skin: it just sits on top of it, and can clog up pores rather thoroughly. Skin can’t absorb any moisture if it’s congested with oil slurry gel.

Shorten Your Bath Time

Have you ever gotten out of a hot bath after soaking for a while and realised that you were desperately thirsty? It’s likely because immersing yourself in hot water for long periods of time can actually deplete your body of moisture. Soaking in a hot bath can be absolutely blissful in this weather, but either try to keep your wallowing time to a minimum, or don’t make the water too hot. Scalding showers can also suck a fair bit of moisture out of you, so try to keep them short as well.

Stay Hydrated

Even though drinking water doesn’t moisturize your skin directly, it keeps your cells in top working order, which reflects in every area of your life—skin cells included. Flushing toxins out of your body with plenty of fluids will often keep you from breaking out as well.

Taking just a couple of these precautions should make a significant difference in the health of your skin in winter. Eating properly and getting regular sleep will improve your overall well-being—which will be reflected in the state of your skin—and wearing proper outerwear such as gloves and scarves when traipsing about in the snow will help protect your skin from nose to toes.

Featured photo credit:  winter girl behind snow tree via Shutterstock

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