Winter weather is not kind to human skin. The combination of lower humidity, increased winds and colder temperatures creates the perfect storm for leaving skin dry, rough and more susceptible to damage. So what can we do to keep our skin soft and supple throughout the winter months? Read on.
Why Your Skin Becomes Dry, Tight and Wrinkly in the Winter
Before we move on to the “how,” let me explain why your skin behaves the way it does during winter.
The outermost layer of our skin is called the stratum corneum, and it’s the first line of defense against the environment. It contains mostly dead skin cells and is organized like brick and mortar. The bricks are dead skin cells that contain a complex combination of lactic acid, urea, salts and amino acids that is collectively referred to as the skin’s natural moisturizing factor. The mortar is made up of groups of important fats that organize themselves into layers, creating a natural water-binding barrier for the skin.
A healthy water content in the stratum corneum equals soft and smooth skin. When any of these two important components are disrupted, which normally happens during exposure to extreme temperature, your skin loses water and, consequently, becomes dry, flaky and wrinkled.
Your Smooth-Skin Strategy
The good news is that there are so many things that can be done to keep your skin healthy, even during winter season. Here are a few tips:
1. Apply sunscreen.
A common misconception is that you only need UV protection in the summer. Although the strength of the sun’s UVB rays diminish slightly in the winter months, the UVA rays remain constant throughout the year. Snow also reflects up to 80% of the sun’s rays, higher than sand (15%) and water (10%). This makes a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or greater as much a skin care staple in the winter as it is in the summer.
2. Skip the soap.
Traditional soaps strip the skin of necessary oils and increase transepidermal water loss and dryness. Instead, use gentle pH-balanced cleansers. Those in particularly cold climates may want to switch to a cream-based cleanser for winter.
3. Be a moisturizer snob.
Not all moisturizers are created equal. To ensure you get the most out of your moisturizer, choose a product that contains both humectant (ingredients that draw moisture into the skin, like hyaluronic acid) and occlusive (ingredients that trap it within your skin, like shea butter) ingredients. Other ingredients that are good for your skin are urea and glycerin. In addition to water, these two ingredients are shown to hydrate cells internally.
4. Check your skin care products for hidden moisture zappers.
Your skin’s enemies may also be lurking in your other skin care products. Make sure they don’t contain added colors, synthetic fragrances and other ingredients that could potentially irritate and dry out your skin.
5. Keep your cool.
While there’s not much you can do about the weather, keep your skin happy by using a cool-mist humidifier indoors. It’s also important to drink as much water (even when you don’t feel thirsty) to keep your cells hydrated.
READERS—Was this article helpful? Do you have any other tips on how to keep your skin smooth and supple this winter season? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.