Walking in a winter wonderland is a delight… until it leaves you with dry, chapped skin. With dry,
chilly air, skin irritation is much more common in the winter months. Thankfully, with our tips to prevent dry winter skin, you can ward off uncomfortable tightness, flaking, and irritation while maintaining smooth, radiant skin.
Why is My Skin Dry in the Winter?
Several factors come together to cause dry skin in the winter, including:
Low humidity: Cold air doesn’t hold as much moisture as warm air, leading to significantly lower humidity levels in the winter. The dry air draws moisture from the outermost layer of your skin, leading to tight, dehydrated skin.
Indoor heaters: Being inside in the winter can also dry out your skin if the heater’s on. The heat expelled from the heater can dry out the air in your home and, as a result, your skin.
High winds: In many regions, winter weather includes harsh winds. Wind weakens the skin’s moisture barrier, causing dry, damaged skin. While you can easily protect the skin on your body from high winds with clothing, it’s more difficult to shield your facial skin.
Hot showers: Along with these environmental factors, people tend to take warmer showers in the winter. Hot showers can dry out your skin and damage cells in the epidermis, which compromises your skin’s ability to retain moisture. The hot water can also strip your skin of its natural hydrating oils.
How Aging Affects Dry Winter Skin
Do you feel like your winter skin gets drier and more irritated with each passing year? This may be the result of the skin aging process.
Skin tends to get drier with age. One reason for this is that the skin produces fewer natural oils over time. With less natural hydration, aging skin requires more TLC to remain soft and supple.
Also, the effect of sun exposure on the skin accumulates over time. In later life, cumulative sun damage can cause thin skin with poor moisture retention.
So, in addition to following the tips listed below, an anti-aging skincare routine may help you keep dry winter skin at bay.
Skin Sensitivities in Winter
If you struggle with skin sensitivities like eczema or psoriasis, you may experience more flare-ups in the winter. For eczema, this simply comes down to dry air and indoor heating, which compromises the skin’s protective barrier. For psoriasis, dry air and reduced sunlight exposure are culprits, as UVB light helps slow the growth of skin cells, which can ward off psoriasis-related scaling.
Thankfully, both of these skin conditions can benefit from the tips listed below. If you continue to struggle with skin sensitivities in winter, reach out to your Reston dermatologist for professional care.
How to Prevent Dry Skin in the Winter
Apply a Thick, Effective Moisturizer
Many people opt for a lightweight moisturizer to prevent greasy, shiny skin in the warm summer months. But, when winter comes around, we’d recommend swapping your lightweight product for a thicker cream. To understand how a thicker moisturizer will protect your skin in winter, let’s quickly discuss the skin’s anatomy.
The skin is made up of three layers: subcutaneous fat, the dermis, and the epidermis. The epidermis is the outermost layer, and it’s exposed to the elements. The epidermis acts as the skin’s protective barrier, and constantly cycles through skin cells, allowing new cells to reach the surface.
Moisturizers rapidly hydrate the epidermis and can restore the moisture barrier, improving your skin’s protection against dry winter skin. You can enhance the hydrating benefits of your moisturizing cream with the Galactic Glove Anti-Aging Serum, which gives your skin a protective, hydrating layer with vitamin E, vitamin F, and ceramides.
Reconsider Your Winter Showers
If you take hot showers all winter, it’s time to reconsider. To prevent dry skin, use lukewarm water, and limit your showers to 5 to 10 minutes. The longer and hotter the shower, the more likely it is to damage your skin’s moisture barrier.
Take a Close Look at Your Soap
While you’re adjusting your shower to prevent dry winter skin, take a look at your soap. Soaps that contain perfume, alcohol, or deodorants can exacerbate dryness and irritation by compromising your skin’s natural oils.
Protect Your Skin From the Sun
With less sunny weather and more time spent indoors, many people assume that they can skip sunscreen in the winter. This is a major misconception, and it can exacerbate dry, winter skin!
As we mentioned above, cumulative sun damage can lead to chronically dry skin in older age. Wearing sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher every day (and reapplying as needed) can prevent sun damage and help you maintain hydrated skin as you age.
Don’t let cloudy winter weather fool you – the sun’s damaging rays still shine down. When the sky is overcast, the thick clouds could reflect UV rays, making them more intense. Also, if you’re spending the day indoors, keep in mind that the sun can shine through the windows and reach your skin.
Use a Humidifier
A humidifier can combat dry indoor air from your heater in the winter. Humidity in the air will naturally moisturize your skin, helping to prevent dryness, tightness, and flaking. Many people find that turning on a humidifier at night helps prevent dry skin before it occurs.
Keeping your humidifier at a level of 60% should be enough to rehydrate the outermost layer of the epidermis.
Drink Plenty of Fluids
While hydrating your skin with moisturizing creams and serums is crucial, make sure to hydrate from the inside, too. Many people tend to drink less water in the winter because they tend to sweat less. But, especially if you’re experiencing dry skin, drinking plenty of water throughout the day will help you feel (and look) better.
Drinking enough fluids makes your skin less likely to dry out in the winter air. It also helps your body process and remove toxins that could compromise your skin health more effectively.
Adjust Your Skincare Routine
If you experience dry skin in the winter, your skincare may need a few adjustments. For example:
If you exfoliate twice weekly during the rest of the year, you may need to reduce your frequency to once weekly in the winter. Additionally, make sure to use a gentle exfoliant, like the Moon Rock Illuminator Exfoliating Crystals from Dr. Dima Cosminology. The skin-brightening crystals and red algae extract repair damage and rehydrate dry skin without irritation or scratching.
If you apply a retinol or other vitamin A derivative daily, you may need to reduce your frequency to every other day. Also, make sure to apply a hydrating cream before the retinol to keep the moisture barrier intact.
You may need to switch to a gentler cleanser, such as the So Universally Clean Gentle Anti-Aging Cleanser. This botanically-based, antioxidant cleanser clears the pores of impurities without stripping the skin of its natural oils.
Making these adjustments will help prevent excess dryness and irritation in the winter.
Prevent Oxidative Stress
Oxidative stress is the result of free radical damage from exposure to the sun, pollution, tobacco smoke, and other carcinogens. While oxidative stress has many negative effects on the body, it’s known to contribute to skin dryness, roughness, wrinkling, and sagging.
Exposure to free radicals may worsen your dry winter skin. Follow these tips to limit your exposure and prevent oxidative stress:
Limit your exposure to the sun’s UV rays and, as we mentioned above, apply SPF every day.
Add antioxidant-rich foods to your diet. Many fruits and vegetables contain natural antioxidants, including leafy greens, berries, beets, tomatoes, carrots, and broccoli.
Limit your alcohol exposure and, if you smoke, start the process of quitting. While it's easier said than done, quitting smoking is one of the best steps that you can take toward healthier skin, all year long.
Apply antioxidant-rich topical products, like the Hi-Plutonic C Antioxidant Day Serum, to shield your skin from free radicals throughout the day. Antioxidants are substances that neutralize free radicals to prevent cell damage and oxidative stress.
The new and enhanced Hi-Plutonic C formula combines vitamin C with vitamins A and E. This creates a synergistic effect that ramps up the repair process for existing skin damage while preventing further cell damage. Apply Hi-Plutonic every morning along with a hydrating cream and SPF 30 (or higher) for complete protection in the dry winter air.
Achieving Hydrated Winter Skin
While dry winter skin is uncomfortable, it doesn’t have to be forever. With a thoughtful skincare routine, a humidifier, and support from your Reston dermatologist, you can maintain healthy, supple skin in every season.
For further support, reach out to our team today!