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Friday, November 2, 2012

Battling Dry Skin

Not only do I hate cold weather, I hate what it does to my skin—dry flaky patches, cracks, more visible fine lines, an overall parched feeling. None of it is fun, but you can do your part to help battle and overcome dry skin during the winter months. Here are a few tips:

Drink water: Enough said—I’m sure you guys already know this, but it’s the easiest thing you can do to help save your skin. If you don’t like water, find ways to spice it up. Add a lemon, lime or orange to help provide some natural flavor. If that doesn’t do it for you, eat foods (like cucumber or watermelon) that have high water content. On the flip side, skip foods that will dry your skin out, like alcohol or anything salty.

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Consider your face wash: Do you use a foaming face wash every day? How many times do you exfoliate per week? If the answers to these questions are “yes” and “more than once,” you’re doing your skin a disservice. Foaming facial products are notorious for drying out skin, which is great for oily or acne-prone skin or for the summer months, but skip it once it gets cold. Try a creamy cleanser, or one made with very gentle ingredients. My year-round favorite is Cetaphil® Gentle Skin Cleanser (starting at $9, available at most drug stores). If you’re exfoliating several times per week, STOP. You might think that because your skin is flaky that means there are layers of skin wanting to be removed through exfoliation. That isn’t the case. Flaky skin is a sign that you and your skin aren’t properly hydrated. The best things you can do in this situation are to increase your water intake or intake of foods with high water content, use a gentle face cleanser and moisturize. Exfoliating once a week, or even every other week, should be fine for winter if you encounter this problem. Some people even recommend only washing your face at night and just splashing water on your face in the morning, but I’ll leave that up to you if you want to try it!

Consider your moisturizer: As with your wardrobe, your skincare routine has to evolve with the changing seasons. If the skin on your face is dry, maybe all you need is a denser face cream. If the skin on your body is dry, one great thick-and-creamy lotion you may want to check out is Aveeno® Daily Moisturizing Lotion. Apply it as soon as you finish showering or bathing to help lock in moisture. And if you don't use an eye cream, try one out this winter. Cold and dry weather makes fine lines on the face more visible. Keeping the eye area hydrated can help minimize the appearance of those lines.

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Change your makeup: If you use mineral makeup or powder every day, find alternatives for the winter. Switch to a liquid foundation or B.B. cream that can provide a little more hydration. I don’t use powder at all. If it’s a part of your makeup routine that you just can’t let go of, consider using much less during the winter or putting it only in spots where you really need it, like your forehead or nose. You could also skip powder blush and choose a cream product.

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Turn down the water temperature: Yes, I know it’s extremely difficult to take a shower using lukewarm water—especially when you just woke in the morning and are going straight from your toasty bed to the bathroom. But, hot water is a killer for your skin. If you can’t commit to showering with cooler water, at least make sure to turn down the heat as you wash your hands throughout the day. And never, ever wash your face with hot water!

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Ditch your loofah: When you use a loofah or wash cloth in the shower, it’s providing exfoliation for your skin even if you’re using the gentlest of body washes. Try skipping these items in the shower at least a few times per week and make sure you moisturize your entire body when you step out of the shower.

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Baby your hands: If you’re in your twenties or thirties and your hands look like that of an 80-year-old woman’s, the weather could be to blame. Try not to expose your hands to hot water, and make sure you moisturize immediately after getting your hands wet. I usually carry travel-size Jergens lotion in my purse, gym bag and keep bottles on my desk at work and in all my bathrooms at home. While you’re at it, make sure you take the time to moisturize your cuticles. When the cuticle/nail area is dry, it begins to crack and really shows the effects of dry weather. At least once per week, take the time to use a cuticle oil or cream. My favorite is Burt’s Bees® Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream. If you can, do this once per day for amazing results.
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Take care of your feet: Feet easily get dry and cracked during the winter. Fortunately, it’s not too hard to get your feet feeling soft and hydrated. The first thing you can do is to wear socks—all the time. If you walk around barefoot at home, don’t. Every night before I go to bed, I take a handful of lotion and rub it into my feet, and then I put on a pair of cotton socks. Try it once and you’ll be hooked! If you have the time, also use an oil or cream for the cuticles on your toes. If your feet are in really rough shape, try a heavy duty product like Dr. Scholl’s® For Her Ultra Overnight Foot Cream.

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Don’t forget about your lips: Chapped lips are so uncomfortable and they look terrible when they flake. To prevent chapped lips, exfoliate them once per week and use a really dense lip balm, like Carmex. Also make sure to carry around lip balm and apply it throughout the day, particularly after eating, drinking, brushing your teeth or being outside. Stay away from using products like lip stains during the winter—these products tend to be drying on the lips and will just exacerbate the look of chapped lips. 

Do you have any tips to beat dry skin during the winter?

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