Living in Chicago, I know all about winter–below-zero temperatures, biting winds, big dumps of snow. I also know about the havoc winter conditions can cause to one’s skin, the dryness, chapping, and even wind burn. Winter can be just as bad indoors, where the blasting furnaces dry out the air and sap the moisture from your skin. As the season changes into harsher winter, here are seven tips for proper skin care.
No harsh cleansers. The winter weather and dry indoor heat are hard enough on your skin, so you want cleansers that are gentle as possible while still being effective. Liquid cleansers are generally less drying than bar soaps. Two good options for winter skin care are Neutrogena’s Extra Gentle Cleanser, which moisturizes as it cleans, and Clinique’s dermatologist-tested Liquid Facial Cleanser, which cleans without stripping away the skin’s natural defenses.
Neutrogena also carries an excellent alcohol-free toner to add to a winter skin care regime. It cleans skin well and goes deep into pores, but without that tightening feeling or over-drying of the skin.
Moisturize! Between the weather, wind, and increased hand washing to prevent the spread of cold germs, hands take a particular beating. Elbows and knees get dry. Everyday skin care lotions don’t always do the trick. For hands and particularly for dry legs, I prefer Curel’s Ultra-Healing lotion in the blue bottle. Apply it right after a shower or bath, and it goes on smooth and holds in the moisture for the whole day.
If your hands are particularly dry or damaged, and lotion just isn’t enough, Eucerin has the intense Aquafor Healing Ointment. Thicker and more binding than lotion, this helps repair severely cracked or chapped hands and lips.
It may sound strange, but one of the best and least expensive skin care solutions I’ve found for severely dry hands is plain Vaseline. It’s not fancy and it can be greasy, but it protects and allows natural healing. Apply it to the backs of both hands at night before bed. Wear thin cotton gloves to protect bed linens. In the morning, you’ll find your hands are now ten times smoother!
For the face, it helps to moisturize the skin before applying make-up. A perfect light lotion that can be used for daily skin care is Neutrogena’s Oil-Free Moisture, which is available for both sensitive and combination skin. It goes on best over slightly damp skin, and takes just a minute to fully absorb. It keeps skin smooth, doesn’t clog pores, and helps make-up glide on more easily.
Don’t skip the sunscreen. Most people assume sunscreen is only necessary for skin care in summer. It’s still possible for the winter sun to cause damage to skin, even through car windows. Reflection off the bright snow can cause severe sunburn, just the same as reflection from water in the summer can. So keep wearing those shades and sunscreen in winter!
Lots of combination skin care products are available now, which makes application of sunscreen easier. CoverGirl’s Advanced Radiance line includes moisturizers and SPF 15 protection in their foundation. Neutrogena’s Healthy Skin Enhancer is a tinted moisturizer with SPF 20, that protects skin without adding a heavy finish.
Go light on the powder. If your skin has a tendency to be dry in winter, definitely skip it. Powder will only dry skin out more and settle in any fine lines. If you must use powder, try to limit it to the T-zone, and use special formulations of moisturizing powders. Almay has Line Smoothing Pressed Powder for Dry Skin, specially formulated to stay out of those fine lines. For those with oil-control issues, try Neutrogena’s Healthy Blends, but definitely go light on this one. Even with the moisturizers and vitamins, it’s meant to control oil, so it can be drying if you apply too heavily.
Protect skin from the winter wind. Moisturizing products are important, but scarves and gloves must be included on the winter skin care list. No one likes to smudge their make-up or mess up their hair, but exceptions must be made for icy cold winter conditions. A roomy hood pulled forward will mess hair up less than a tight knit cap, and can keep the wind off much of your face. If you’re going to be outside for extended periods, pull that scarf up to protect cheeks and lips from being chapped by the icy winter air.
The same goes for hands and legs. The fashion now is to not wear stockings, but it’s a big mistake to have bare legs in a Chicago winter. Even sheer hose will take the sting out of the cold weather, but tights and high winter boots are better. Wearing trousers is also a good option. Don’t forget to wear gloves, even if you’re only going to be in and out of the car. It takes the car time to warm up in winter, and it doesn’t take long in below-freezing temperatures for your skin to be affected.
Hydrate when you can. It’s impractical to apply moisturizer repeatedly throughout the day, but there are special products to help you keep skin hydrated in winter. The HydrAction Deep Hydration Refreshing Spray from Dior is a good solution to your dry skin and flaky make-up concerns. The moisturizing spray can be applied over make-up and will help keep skin conditioned and make-up looking fresh.
Give extra care to your lips! Chapstick is the big name in this field, but I’ve never had much luck with their products. I found greater relief from Avon’s lip balms, which can cost as little as $.99 each. Burt’s Bees has a great line of natural beeswax skin care products, particularly their minty lip balms which seal in moisture and are great protection from windy conditions. Kiehl’s has a pricey but effective line of lip balms, that repair and protect lips at SPF4-SPF15 levels. The Lip Balm #1, specifically for chapped lips and winter conditions, is part of the “Mt. Everest” collection, letting you know the product will easily withstand the average city’s winter weather.
As winter snows pile up and strong winds blow, follow the above skin care tips to keep your skin smooth and hydrated. Find full information on the products at Neutrogena, Clinique, Almay, CoverGirl, Kiehl’s, Curel, Eucerin, and Vaseline. You can often buy these skin care products direct from the manufacturer, and most skin care products can also be found at any local drugstore, department store, ULTA, or Sephora.