Between cracked, flaking skin and irritation, winter can be really rough for your skin. So, we chatted with dermatologist Hilary Baldwin on how exactly we can combat these feats during the cold months of the year. Because, after all, if your skin doesn’t look smooth and hydrated, your makeup won’t either. Here’s what we learned about maintaining great skin during the winter.
Avoid antibacterial cleansers.
With cold and flu season in high gear, you do want to fight off any winter bugs. But antibacterial cleansers often contain drying and irritating detergents and chemicals, like triclosan. A better bet is to scrub up for at least 20 seconds (sing one round of "Happy Birthday" to make sure you're washing up long enough), using warm water and a traditional, soap-free cleanser. Try: the CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser, which sends germs down the drain and moisturizes at the same time.
Pack away the pump.
The season’s chapped, flaky skin requires a tough solution and your lotion in a pump may not be up to the job. “Anything that comes in a pump is simply not strong enough to battle the dryness of winter skin,” Baldwin says. “Instead, look for products that come in tubes or tubs.” Creams that contain ingredients, such as ceramides, lactic acid, shea butter, glycerin and hyaluronic acid, add moisture to skin and help it hang onto hydration by fortifying its barrier. Try: Kiehl's Creme de Corps Soy Milk & Honey Whipped Body Butter.
Order up some salmon.
A fat-free diet is so 1995, and it can exacerbate dry skin. Instead, focus on consuming the right fats. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are a natural part of the skin’s top layer. They are important for the function of your skin’s barrier. With low amounts, your skin can lose water, which can lead to dryness. Foods rich in omega-6 include safflower, grape seed, poppy seed, sunflower and corn oils, as well as wheat germ. Those bursting with omega-3 are cold-water fatty fish (wild salmon, sardines and mackerel), flaxseeds and flaxseed oil, walnuts and green leafy vegetables. Essential fatty acids and antioxidants will help promote healthy skin, especially during the winter.
Oil up on the outside, too.
Applying oil to damp skin can help trap moisture as well as keep the skin’s natural barrier intact. The key is to use a fast-absorbing body oil that offers all the hydration without the mess to leave your skin soft and smooth. Try: Lancôme’s Absolue Precious Oil.
Pace your exfoliating.
Here’s one of winter’s catch 22’s. Your complexion looks dry and flaky so you reach for your favorite scrub to remove the dead skin, but the skin’s top protective layer is what retains much-needed moisture. What to do? Exfoliate using a gentle non-scrub cleanser and a rotating brush like the Clarisonic, and do so only one to three times times per week. Immediately after cleansing, apply a rich cream to damp skin.