Wintertime, with its frigid temperatures, has a less than stellar reputation when it comes to its effects on the skin. This season's cold air causes the skin to dry out and become susceptible to irritations, like blisters and rashes. And for those already dealing with skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema, 'tis the season for flare-ups.
Of course, the common-sense solution to alleviate these unwanted problems is to slather on the lotions and prescription ointments. While that is the way to go, it's only part of the solution. There may be other factors that could be contributing to your skin problems, and you may be overlooking them. Here are some do's and don'ts for achieving supple skin this winter.
Exfoliate Your Skin
You may be thinking that exfoliating during the winter months will lead to further irritation of the skin, especially if it's already sensitive. What exfoliating does, however, is slough off dead skin cells, leaving behind replenished skin. This, in turn, will improve the efficacy of your moisturizers and lotions. The key is to avoid abrasive exfoliants, like loofahs or exfoliating gloves, or to at least limit their usage. I recommend using a mild washcloth along with a gentle, fragrance-free cleanser.
This rule should also be applied to the face. Considering it is usually the part of the body that is most exposed to the elements, it should not be neglected. Since the skin on the face is much thinner than the skin on the rest of the body, you don't have to exfoliate it as often. Once or twice a week will suffice.
Though mechanical exfoliants like scrubs and electric brushes are popular choices, they may be too harsh for the face. Chemical exfoliants like AHAs and BHAs are your best bet for removing skin cells evenly and with less abrasion.
Avoid Hot Showers and Baths
I know, I know. It's cold right now, but please resist the urge to take scalding hot baths or showers! The heat from the hot water will dry out the skin and strip away its natural oils. Hot showers in conjunction with exfoliating is a bad idea. Instead, use warm water.
The happy medium that gives warmth without burning the skin. But if you must shower with hot water, keep your time in the shower brief.
Lower Your Heater
Nothing says warm and toasty like having the heater on or sitting by the fireplace. But nothing says ashy like the effects these two things can have on the skin. Air is already dry during the winter. Blasting the heater makes the air inside your home even drier, thus drying out your skin.
So do yourself a favor and lower the thermostat a couple notches. Instead, allow your clothes to do most of the work by layering.
Use Heavier Lotions
As mentioned before, the commonsense solution for combating dry skin in the winter is to moisturize. During this season you have permission to go heavier than usual when choosing body lotions. You'll want to create a barrier between your skin and the dry air.
I recommend using quality lotions that are geared to treating skin problems. They usually have a richer, thicker texture and contain more oils and conditioning agents than other daily moisturizers. I suggest Palmer's Coco Butter Formula Moisturizing Body Lotion or Goldbond Ultimate Eczema Relief Lotion.
Use Heavier Lip Balms
You must also create a barrier for the lips as well. Yes, that fruity flavored lip gloss or lip balm may be yummy, but is it effective in keeping your lips supple? Probably not.
This season, opt for something richer like a salve or a lanolin/ petroleum-based ointment with added moisturizers in them. I recommend A+D First Aid Skin Ointment or Aquaphor Healing Ointment.
If you have any other tips for keeping skin soft during the winter, share them with the DDS community down in the comments.
Dougherty (DOH-wer-dee) is a beauty enthusiast and writer with a passion for natural hair and skin care. Her other interests include music and literature. When she's not blogging, she is enjoying spending quality time with her friends and family.