How to Care for Winter Skin
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Cosmetics companies just love to sell you on the idea that each new season calls for an arsenal of new products. And why wouldn’t they? It means you’ll ditch your half-finished current bottle of snake oil in favor of one that comes with the same crap on the inside and different claims on the out. Cha-ching.
Of course, it’s true that cold weather and even clock changes can have serious side effects for skin. But if you’re the sensitive type, switching out your entire regimen—i.e. risking reactions to new products—right when the temperature is dropping, is likely to do more harm than good. In fact if your skin is at all finicky, we strongly advocate sticking to routine in this area.
So how to beat your winter skin woes? Click “Next” above to read the tips that will matter most for winter skin.
This is part of a series inspired by No More Dirty Looks: The Truth About Your Beauty Products and the Ultimate Guide to Safe and Clean Cosmetics, by Siobhan O'Connor and Alexandra Spunt.
Read more on their blog
Illustration by Brianna Harden
Moisturize. Yes, it’s the most boring advice in the world, but there’s a reason people say it so often. Moisturizing does exactly what it implies: It helps keep moisture in by replicating the skin’s natural barrier function. It’s simple science, and you don’t need to use a different one for every season. Find a good clean moisturizer that you love, or get with the oil program, and just do it consistently. If you’re out and about in the winter keep a to-go version in your bag for some extra application.
Wash less. We covered this last week, and the merits of this advice are doubly relevant for winter. Over-washing strips skin of its natural protective oils, robs it of healthy bacteria, increases exposure to harmful and/or irritating chemicals, and generally aggravates skin conditions like rosacea and eczema—the very same ones that are exacerbated by seasonal changes. So as the air gets cold and dry, and you’re less likely to be a sweaty mess, do yourself a favor and get with the dirty program.
Avoid the acids. You don’t have to agree with our no-acid rule, but even proponents of stripping and peeling should dial back over the winter. Whether you use AHAs or BHAs, go for chemical peels, get microderm abrasion, or just subscribe to a heavy scrubbing routine, we reallyreallyreally think you should slow down. While you may be less at risk to sun exposure over the winter, burning off that top layer of skin will make you all the more vulnerable to the chafing, drying and cracking effects of cold air and gusty winds. While you may think this is reducing fine lines, we think over the long haul it’s speeding up the aging process.
Get your fat on. Ever notice how you crave more fat in the winter? While the diet set will offer tips on how to counter that impulse, we think that the body has an innate intelligence when it comes to such things. Healthy fats, especially omegas 3s, are key to maintaining hydrated, glowy, happy skin. Winter’s a good time to up your intake on these and as an added bonus it will help satisfy that appetite for grease the healthy way. Foods like salmon, sardines, olive oil and walnuts are chock full of omegas, but we’re not opposed to taking a supplement on top of that. Just make sure it’s a good one.
Improve your digestion. Your tummy is talking to you, and what it’s saying can often be read on your skin. While we don’t think you need different products every season, we do think you need different food. In a past posts about Ayurveda we’ve explained how important it is to eat with the season. Winter calls for warm, calming foods and the previously mentioned healthy fats. Sorry salad girls, but your skin needs something a little bit more substantial and heat-producing to face the winter months. Instead of eating your veggies raw, make a soup or stir fry with them instead.
Dose up on D. Vitamin D has emerged as something of a miracle worker in the last few years. While research is ongoing, there is promising evidence that it could help prevent cancer, raise immunity, and lower the risks associated with all kinds of diseases. It’s also a powerful antioxidant, and you know that that means. Because the sun is a primary source for vitamin D, and because most of us are deficient, we’re going to suggest that you look to increase your intake of this wonder vitamin during the winter. It is available in certain foods, like fish and fortified milk, but it’s hard to get enough through those sources. As with fish oil, we think it's a good idea to take supplements too.
Get a humidifier. One easy way to counter dry air is—ding, ding, ding—to add moisture to it. Some advice from the experts at the Mayo Clinic: Be sure to keep your humidifier clean, because a dirty one is an amazing place for bacteria to thrive. Also, try to have your humidifier where you spend the most time, since you’d need several to change the air quality of a house or large apartment. We suggest you put it by your bed when you’re asleep: That way you’ll wake up with happy, hydrated skin.