Protecting Your Skin in the Winter Months
By Meredith Cox, Staff Writer
One of the worst things about the winter season is the toll that harsh winds and bitter coldness take on our fragile skin. During the winter months, we often find our skin to appear dry, red, and uneven. It is important that we take time to care for our skin, as it is our biggest and most visible organ, stretching out to be an average of 22 square feet. Yes, you read that right – your skin is an organ! So, here are some simple ways you can care for your skin and protect it during the long winter months.
Cleanse and Exfoliate. Make sure you are using a cleanser you like, especially around your face. It may take some time to find which one works best for your skin type. Try avoiding face washes with harsh chemicals like parabens, alcohols, and fragrances. Look for products with glycerin if you want to hold in moisture, or salicylic acid to clear blocked pores and reduce swelling and redness. No matter what type of skin you have, avoid scrubbing as it will only leave you with even more irritated, red skin. Also, try using products with benzoyl peroxide to exfoliate the skin and kill bacteria. Be sure to wash your skin with warm water to open up your pores and get optimal exfoliation. Whenever you cleanse, take time to pat your skin until it is dry, as rubbing it with a towel may cause more inflammation.
Moisturize. The biggest skin issue people face in the winter is dryness. Apply moisturizers within a few minutes of bathing to trap water in the skin. Look for creams with emollients or lubricating ingredients that make skin smooth, soft, and most importantly protected. These include plant oils, like olive oil, glycerin, and fatty acids, like linoleic acid. Try to avoid scented moisturizers as the fragrance chemicals may irritate the skin.
Use Sunscreen. It is not just around for the summertime. Many people do not think to apply sunscreen in the winter months, as we are usually bundled up from head to toe, trying to stay warm. However, UV rays are still present and just as damaging as in the summer months. We often do not realize it, but our hands, faces, and most importantly lips are still exposed. Use a face lotion that has sunscreen already in it, with an SPF of at least 30. Also remember to apply lip balm with SPF 30 to avoid painful chapped lips.
Eat For Your Skin. Skin is built from the inside out, so be conscious of what you are putting into your body. Avoid too many added sugars, like sodas, as they can contribute to wrinkles and premature aging. Also, limit your salt intake, since sodium can make you retain water and thus appear puffy, while drying out your skin’s surface. Eat foods with lots of antioxidants, like berries, tomatoes, spinach, peppers, and beans, as these aid in preventing free-radical damage that leads to inflammation. Also, get a good dose of healthy fats from sources like olive oil, avocados, walnuts, and salmon. These fats help form your skin’s natural barrier so you can fend off dryness and unwanted blemishes. Remember, your skin is an organ, made up of cells, which need water to function properly. So, make sure you are staying hydrated so your cells can absorb all of the nutrients they need to keep skin elastic and avoid a dry, tight, and flaky appearance.
Dry, itchy, red skin is not only unappealing, but is also uncomfortable. Keeping these practices in mind can help you feel and look radiant all year long.