“The cold never bothered me anyway” is only true in fairy tales. In real life, cold winter weather can have an impact on your skin. An expert at Baylor College of Medicine said switching up your skincare routine can help fight the dryness and irritation your skin experiences when the temperature drops.
“Environmental factors play a big role in how you are going to use your skincare,” said Kim Chang, a medical aesthetician at Baylor. “Your skin is going to react differently depending on weather.”
Chang offers tips on how to keep your skin hydrated and glowing during the winter months:
- Use sunscreen
Although winter is not necessarily associated with being outdoors, the sun can still damage your skin during those short periods when you are outside. Remember to apply a SPF 30 or higher sunscreen every day, even if the weather is cold and cloudy.
“A lot of people stop using as much sunscreen in the winter because they don’t feel like they are out in the sun as much,” Chang said. “The sun can cause not only skin cancer but other damage that can dry out your skin further.”
- Use milky or oil-based cleansers
Chang advises using milky or oil-based cleansers when washing your face or body. Foaming cleansers can strip the skin of its natural oils and cause further dryness.
“Cleansing dirt and make up off is key – not trying to strip away the skin’s natural oils, which keep your skin healthy and glowing,” Chang said.
- Incorporate hydrating oil
Moisturizing is the best way to combat dry skin, but if a moisturizer is not enough, Chang recommends using a hydrating oil like coconut or grapeseed oil after you moisturize.
“Sometimes all moisturizers do is create a barrier on your skin and do not fully moisturize it,” Chang said. “Using something like grapeseed oil that is made for the skin can really help with dryness.”
Although exfoliating may seem harmful to dry, sensitive skin, Chang said it is important to not let dry skin build up.
“Exfoliating takes away the dead skin so it makes your skin a lot softer,” she said.
She recommends using exfoliating cloths or scrubs with jojoba beads or diatomaceous earth for your face and body. If you have sensitive skin, use something gentler like an enzyme exfoliator made from fruit like pumpkin or cherry. She adds that it is essential to moisturize right after exfoliating.
Another effective way to exfoliate is through dry brushing, where a brush with stiff bristles is used to brush away dead skin. Chang said that it is important to use two different brushes for exfoliating, one for the body and a gentler one for the face.
“The best way to dry brush is in the shower before turning on the water to keep the dry skin from flying all over the bathroom,” Chang said. “Use the brush in circular motions starting from the extremities of your body (fingertips, toes) toward your heart, which helps the blood flow and releases toxins. Shower as usual afterward, and moisturize right after your shower.”
- Try serums and masks
Chang recommends using a serum before a moisturizer when you need additional hydration. A serum also is customizable to your skin type to address concerns like aging, pigmentation or dryness, she said.
“I’m a big fan of serums because the ingredients have more benefits for your skin,” Chang said. “What I think of with a serum is that it’s jam-packed with all the good stuff, therefore it’s usually a smaller vile and it can deliver into your skin a lot quicker and more effectively than a moisturizer.”
A good way for your skin to receive an extra dose of hydration is through a mask. Chang recommends using a gel or sheet mask during the winter time and to avoid clay masks that tend to absorb the skin’s natural oils.
“Masks are a popular way to prepare your skin for the winter months because people want to put something on their skin that stays there,” Chang said. “Any mask that is not clay would work.”