Published: December 7, 2015
When the topic of skin care comes around, and particularly when it comes to addressing all the different environmental elements that can wreak havoc on the delicate skin of the face and hands, the conversation typically centers on the many ways in which we damage our skin–both knowingly and unaware–by not protecting it from the UVA and UVB rays of the sun. Anyone who doesn’t know the importance of using sunscreen would have had to have been comatose for the past 40 or more years, to provide any acceptable excuse for not knowing to use sunscreen. Summer activities do see us spending a great deal of our free time out of doors, and even with the constant warnings being issued everywhere, there is a shocking number of sun worshippers who substitute sun tanning oils for sunscreen, basking in the glow of the sun as much as they possibly can.
Sunscreen: It’s Not a Part Time Job–It’s a Full-Time Commitment
What most people do not realize is that protecting the skin is actually a year-round responsibility, and in some ways, the winter months come with even more potential to be problematic, as far as your skin is concerned. While the majority of people faithfully keep that sunscreen applied and reapplied–both on themselves and on their beloved family members–every time they will be outside during the summer, this is just not enough. The deal is that the sun is always out, even on days when it’s cloudy gray all day long–even when it is raining torrentially or snowing. The sun is still sending harmful UVA and UVB rays to where they do the most damage. Yep, that’s right–your skin. Doesn’t even matter how cold it might be. You just need protection from the sun. Melanoma is surely the worst form of skin damage, but the damage also occurs in the form of spotty skin patches, sags, wrinkles and lines, too. The higher the altitude where you live (or vacation–such as a skiing or snowboarding trip,) the more protection you will need. And not all sunscreen products are equal. Look for those containing zinc or titanium dioxide to do the job.
How Winter Heating Hurts Your Skin
Regardless of whether or not it’s centralized, whether it is gas, a fireplace, kerosene, oil or electric–all forms of generated heat have a secondary power to produce a drying effect upon everything in the area, with the items closest to the source receiving the most intense effects of drying. Anyone who has problems with dry skin–in the form of scaly shedding, dry patches, eczema and psoriasis–will typically find that these symptoms exacerbate during the winter months. People spend an inordinate amount of time indoors, whether it is at work, at home, while shopping, in school and practically everywhere else. Even when the heat is sufficient to produce sweat, do not confuse that with a form of moisture for your skin, because it is not. Whether it is on a hot summer day or you are spending a lot of time in a heated indoor environment, all heat produces water loss, in one form or another, which can go deeper into the skin tissues. The skin becomes damaged by this dryness. When you sweat, this can be a skin irritant, as it produces irritants on the skin’s surface and sweat is very salty, which can irritate your skin or further dry it out.
What to Do?
- Water Intake: Make sure to drink a minimum of 6-8 full glasses of water every day.
- Apply That Sunscreen: Every day, make applying sunscreen (with zinc or titanium dioxide,) a part of your daily routine.
- Moisturize More Often: Look for wintertime moisturizers that are formulated with non-comedogenic oil, which will help them keep moisture in the skin without clogging pores. “Humectants” are excellent, as well. And no mineral oil, ever!
- Tend to Your Extremities: Hands and feet need extra TLC in the winter. Before you slip into your socks or stockings/tights, etc., lotion up, thoroughly. And before putting on gloves, slather some nice lotion on your hands.
- Lay Off the Alcohol: No, this is not about resisting that chocolate martini–this is referring to skin care products. Stay away from products that contain alcohol–even skin toners.
- Bathe Less Frequently: Try formulating a little “spot bath” routine you can perform in the shower, every other day during the winter. And use superfatted soaps. Avoid excessively warm water, which further depletes your skin of essential oils. If you take a bath, keep the water as tepid as possible, and make sure to add some skin-soothing serums and potions to the bathwater. Try some colloidal oatmeal in your next bath. Avoid soaking for extended lapses of time.
- Wait to Exfoliate: You don’t have to ditch them altogether, but try pacing your exfoliation treatments, drying masks and chemical peels. Do these half as often as you would during the summer months, and you’ll accomplish the same benefit.