The beginning of the year also means the beginning of winter. This season can be particularly harsh in many areas – weather, finances due to all the holiday shopping, time, and that initial phase of getting started with your new year’s resolutions.
Winter is particularly harsh on the skin too.
During the winter, dry skin is the biggest culprit to look out for. Cold air and central heating units strip moisture from the skin, and also tighten the pores and reduce the blood circulation. All these factors combined dry out the skin very easily, and reduce the potency of the protective barrier that your body naturally produces. The result is less flexible skin that leads to redness, cracking, peeling, and even more.
Those with existing conditions such as acne and eczema can also see a heightened risk of new breakouts and flare-ups if proper measures are not taken beforehand.
Here are 6 factors to keep your eye on to protect your skin against the winter’s harshness:
1) Stronger Moisturizers
When seasons change, you don’t keep wearing the same clothing. Chances are you dress down or up depending on the temperature, weather, location, etc. The same thought process should apply to your skin care routine as well.
The colder, drier weather of winter means that it is time to upgrade from your standard moisturizer. Switching from a regular lotion to a cream during this time allows more moisture to stay locked into the skin, as creams are a bit thicker and contain less water than lotions.
The lips are an especially sensitive location that is very prone to dryness and cracking. It can be tempting to lick the lips to keep them moist, but this actually has the opposite effect and dries them out even more. Instead, lip balm or petroleum jelly should be used to keep to keep the lips hydrated and protected.
Most importantly, drinking lots of water should also be a big priority. Colder air and temperatures drain a lot of moisture from the skin, and many are surprised to learn how quickly they can become underhydrated even if they consume water throughout the day. The more water the better!
2) Refined Carbs
Everywhere you look, there are refined carbs everywhere! Baked goods, starchy dinners, sweet seasonal beverages – you name it. Despite the prevalence of all the comfort foods, avoid going overboard with them. In addition to the health risks and high calorie count that most of these products contain, refined carbs can also be a contributing factor to acne.
Refined carbs increase the production of sebum and certain hormones. The end result is oilier skin. In addition, many of these seasonal winter foods also contain a lot of other ingredients such as caffeine or alcohol that dehydrate the skin. This causes the skin to dry out even more, which can exacerbate other potential problems.
The solution? Simply keep an eye on the amount of refined carbs you are consuming. Completely avoiding all these seasonal items is both unreasonable and unnecessary. It’s perfectly fine to treat yourself during this time of the year – but remember to set limits and know when enough is enough.
3) Sudden Temperature Changes
Broken capillaries are possible anytime of the year, but the low temperatures of winter increases the likelihood of these by quite a bit. While this condition is cosmetic only, broken capillaries are usually permanent once they appear unless they are treated.
Going from the cold outdoors into warm heated buildings, and vice versa, can take its toll on your blood vessels and skin. This large difference in temperature causes the blood vessels to expand and contract a lot in a short amount of time. When these contractions and expansions occur too fast, the vessels can become overstretched and are unable to shrink back down to their smaller sizes. This can then lead to the appearance of red, splotchy skin with an uneven complexion.
Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to minimize these large temperature changes. Wrapping up with an extra layer or two while outdoors can keep the body warmer and limit the skin’s exposure to the harsh winter air. When going back indoors, avoid staying directly in front of heaters or fireplaces for extended periods of time. Central heating, especially when used for extended periods of time, is a very big source of dry skin, which is important to keep in mind due to how common these units are.
Instead, a good workaround is to set these units a few degrees lower and throw on warmer clothing. If it is not possible to control the temperature of the heater in a location, removing a layer of clothing or two can keep the body heat from going up too high.
4) Skin Irritants
Cold air reduces blood circulation throughout the body which tightens the pores. This leads to the skin feeling a bit more tight, as well as a reduction in the protective layer that normally guards the skin. During this state, the skin is prone even further to dryness, cracking, and flaking on its own.
However, many of the everyday products and items our skin is exposed to can aggravate the skin’s increased sensitivity even more. Those with existing conditions such as eczema and psoriasis will also want to take note of such items during this time.
Certain fabrics that are commonly used for winter clothing can catch and rub against the skin excessively, which can irritate dry skin. Cotton articles in particular can drain moisture from the skin which dries out the skin even more. Pillow cases and undergarments made of silk are gentle against the skin, and allow the skin to retain moisture rather than draining it out.
Using soaps, fragrances, and other products that are unscented and free from dyes and excess chemicals are also recommended, as some ingredients can be a bit harsh on the already compromised skin. Even the simple act of drying off the skin after a shower can be a source of irritation. Instead, patting the skin dry is much less abrasive.
5) Hot Showers
Taking a nice hot shower or bath after a long, cold day is one of the biggest culprits that contributes to dry skin; yet, many don’t even realize it.
While it can feel good at the time, hot water strips the skin of the protective oils that help keep moisture sealed in. In addition, the high water temperature causes the skin to become even drier as the water evaporates. Hot showers can also cause an overdilation of the blood vessels that need to quickly contract once you step out into the cold winter air. Temperatures that are too hot can even contribute to skin inflammation and peeling if you aren’t careful.
The solution is very easy – limit your shower-bath time to about 10 minutes max, and use warm water as opposed to a full on hot shower. Immediately after the warm shower has been finished, moisturize the body with a body cream to help the skin retain as much moisture as possible.
6) Hot Tip: Vitamin C Serum
Vitamin C has numerous benefits that can enhance the skin during the winter, especially for those who are prone to conditions like acne or eczema. If you’ve been considering trying something new to enhance your existing regimen, this is the time to start.
Vitamin C contains antioxidants that helps strengthen the protective skin barrier, which as you now know, gets weaker during the winter. Strengthening this protective barrier allows the skin to retain more moisture while keeping the skin guarded against the outside elements. It can also make your sunscreen more effective. Those who are in snowy areas will especially need to be concerned about proper sunscreen use, as the UV rays from the sun reflect off of the snow, which means your skin gets twice the exposure.
Long-term, Vitamin C boosts collagen production. In turn, this can counteract some of the sagginess and lines/wrinkles that develop due to the winter air stripping away the beneficial oils, and the increased dryness that comes with the season.
The enzymes and antioxidants contained in Vitamin C help brighten dull skin and target discoloration from any hyperpigmentation, as well as reduce inflammation. This antiinflammatory property helps soothe the redness and cracking that are common with dry skin, as well as any current breakouts or flareups. With normal use and integration into a proper winter skin care regimen, the end result is brighter, well-hydrated, and ultimately healthier looking skin during a season known for gloomy weather and skin difficulties.
For your convenience, Dr. Behroozan has his own personal Vita-CE serum available at both practice locations, as well as on our website via our Product Store! Click here to view our Vita-CE serum!
You work hard to take care of your skin. When you go outside, you put on sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun's harmful rays, and each day, you carefully wash and moisturize your skin. This can make it a little frightening when you notice a ne...