7 Expert-Backed Ways to Keep Your Skin Healthy in the Winter
While we love winter for the holiday season, cozy sweaters, and hot chocolate, we don't love how the temperature affects our skin. It seems as if overnight our skin goes from being nourished and plump to dry and cracked.
"In the winter, there is naturally less moisture in the air due to the environment and abrasive conditions, like the wind. Indoor factors like central heating can also decrease the moisture level of the air," explains Dendy Engelman, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. "This makes it harder for the skin to maintain its natural protective oils, which act as a barrier against environmental aggressors. As a result, moisture gets pulled from the skin, leading it to become dry and cracked."
But it doesn't have to stay that way. Here are seven expert-backed skincare hacks that can take your skin's health from nada to Prada.
1. Use a Humidifier
"By replenishing moisture in the air and keeping the humidity at an ideal level (about 40-60%) humidifiers help protect your skin when you're indoors," says Dr. Engelman. She recommends the Canopy humidifier as it's built with technology that prevents mold and bacteria from growing and has an evaporative system, meaning that it only releases pure, hydrated air — not water vapor.
2. Avoid Taking Hot Showers
"In the winter, especially, it is tempting to crank up the heat, but hot water strips the oils from your skin and can leave it more susceptible to drying out, cracking, and flaking," says Dr. Engelman. Try to cool it on the water temp to preserve whatever bit of moisture you can.
3. Moisturize When Your Skin Is Still Damp
After your not-too-hot shower (or face washing), Dr. Engelman suggests applying your body oil or lotion before your skin has totally dried. "This helps lock in additional moisture," she explains.
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4. Moisturize Your Lips
"Lips can get extremely dry in the winter, as this skin is thinner and constantly exposed to the elements," says Dr. Engelman. The skin on our lips has between three and five cellular layers, whereas the rest of our skin has about 16, and unlike our skin, lips don't have oil glands to keep them moisturized. Because of this, it's extremely important to take care of them. Dr. Engelman recommends using the Lano Original 101 Ointment as its formula holds 200% of its weight in moisture and quickly heals dry, cracked skin.
5. Drink Lots of Water
While we all know how important it is to stay hydrated, Dr. Engelman points out that many people forget to drink water when it's cold out. "In the winter, skin can't retain moisture as well, and drinking water helps replenish some of that hydration," she says.
6. Check Your Skincare's Ingredients
While you likely have a favorite moisturizer you lean toward, Dr. Engelman suggests looking at the ingredient list on the back of your products and being sure you're using ultra-nourishing ones this time of year. "Hyaluronic acid is a superstar ingredient for hydration as it can hold up to 1000x its weight in water," she says. "Ceramides and peptides strengthen and restore the skin barrier, helping skin retain moisture. Squalane, shea, and lightweight hydrating oils — like jojoba — are also great for helping skin stay hydrated."
7. Don't Skimp on Hand Care
Since we're all still washing our hands constantly, and should be, it's not enough to simply apply hand cream in the morning and call it a day. Instead, keep one at your desk, in your car, and in your purse so you remember to reapply. For an extra dose of moisture, use a cuticle oil once a day to keep your nails in tip-top shape, too.