We love hot cocoa, cozy parkas and snuggles by the fire as much as the next girl--but when it comes to our skin, winter can be a disaster. Here, top dermatologists give us tips on how to conquer cold weather skin issues like flakes, itchy patches and ashiness.
Just say no to frequent hot showers and baths. According to Dr. Ilyse Lefkowicz, cleansing too often with hot water will do more harm than good to our lovely skin. She advises limiting your daily bath and shower time to 10 minutes or less.
Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize! Find the richest body cream available and slather it on. We love First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream ($28) (great for itchy, scaly skin) and Vaseline Sheer Infusion Body Lotion in Botanical Blend ($8). Not into the creams and lotions? Use an oil. Alice Bamford, creator of the body skincare line Bamford Bath and Body, suggests applying a body oil right after you step out of the shower or bath while your skin is still damp. Try Bamford Organic Nourishing Body Oil in Chamomille ($72) or just good, old fashioned Johnson's Baby Oil ($5.29). And because few things are more unsightly than cracked, dry hands and feet, Dr. Lefkowicz suggests applying moisturizer and wearing cotton gloves (socks for your feet) overnight--we like BLISS Helping Hands Set ($76) and Softening Socks ($48). Also, allow your toenails to breathe by skipping colored nail polish for a month or so.
If you've got an itch, don't scratch. It's common for dry skin to get itchy. However, all of that scratching can lead to hyperpigmentation and leave unsightly marks on your skin. "When skin is healthy, it keeps moisture in and irritants out," says Dr. Lefkowicz. "But, when compromised, skin loses water, which results in dry skin and irritation." For a quick fix, rub on the Lubriderm Intense Skin Repair Ointment, ($18 for a pack of three). It's lightweight and provides a protective shield against the drying effects of the cold weather.
Avoid harsh soaps. If you're wondering why your skin feels so tight and dry after you bathe, it could be partly due to your soap. If possible, try and stick to gentle, soap-free cleansers such as Cetaphil's Gentle Cleanser ($8)--it's fragrance-free, hypoallergenic and can be used on both the face and body. If you're more into the lightly scented body washes, try Dove Deep Moisture Body Wash with NutriumMoisture ($6). This soothing body wash contains new components that allows moisture to get deep into the surface of your skin to replenish and nourish.
Indoors can also be as brutal as outdoors. According to the skin experts at Clinique, when the cold, dry winter air creeps indoors, it becomes hot, dry air and can remove moisture from your skin and hair. Try using a humidifier or create your own by putting a pot of water underneath your radiator.