It’s that time of year again. My lips are chapped, my hands are cracking and my feet are scratching against the sheets on my bed. It’s funny that I find myself complaining like everyone else, but winter is tough on the skin. It requires diligence and personalized attention. But if you follow some simple tips everyone can achieve great looking skin in any season.

So why is the winter so brutal?

Cold winter air is less humid than warm air and harsh winds cause moisture to evaporate from the skin. Add some indoor heating and a long hot shower which dehydrates the skin and you’re likely to end up with chapped, flaky, blotchy skin which can feel itchy and dry.

So what can you do?

  1-Avoid long, super hot showers and don’t shower more than once a day (I know…this is tough)

             2-Apply moisturizer immediately after bathing to wet skin

             3-Add a humidifier to your bedroom

             4-Drink plenty of fluids…..specifically water

             5-Avoid skin care products that contain a high alcohol content or perfumes

             6-Apply lip balm regularly

             7-Don’t forget the sunscreen  

Remember, each body part needs special attention!

Skin care needs to vary according to location. And the skin on the body needs special care in the winter months. Obviously, the face and the feet can’t be treated the same way. You need to adjust your skincare routine to the season. The oil free moisturizer you purchased last summer may not be enough for your face in January. Try switching to a regular moisturizing lotion or cream and if that’s not eliminating the dryness, try adding a hyaluronic acid serum. You probably shouldn’t be using the same moisturizer in the morning and the evening.  In the morning, you still need to apply sunscreen even in the middle of the winter! Some of the worst burns occur while skiing or hiking on a sunny day because the suns rays reflect off of snow. Finally, trade in the acne wash for a hydrating cleanser!

Lips don’t have oil glands and require extra moisture. If your lips are cracked and inflamed use a soft toothbrush to exfoliate the dead skin and then apply a hydrating lip balm, aquaphor or Vaseline. Avoid ingredients like camphor, menthol and fragrance and if you want to use a natural product try some coconut oil for the lips.

Don’t forget the gloves and socks!

Gloves are your hands best friend. They need to be protected from the cold weather, hot water and cleaning products. Wear gloves! Cotton lined rubber gloves are a must for indoor housework and a pair of gloves in every coat pocket will go a long way. Exfoliate dry dead skin once a week, apply moisturizers and wrap your dry hands in plastic wrap to create your own home spa. For those dry feet, soak them in a warm tub, use a pumice stone or ped egg to remove the dry skin and apply a foot cream with urea or lactic acid. Finally keep your feet warm and dry by wearing waterproof boots and don’t forget to wear socks!

Debra J. Wattenberg, M.D., is the founder of NY Skin RX.  She specializes in cosmetic dermatology and anti-aging cosmetic procedures, as well as the prevention and early detection of skin cancer.

A member of the American Academy of Dermatology, The New York Dermatologic Society and The Independent Doctors of New York, Dr. Wattenberg received her medical degree and residency training from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine where she was elected chief resident during her final year.

Dr Wattenberg, who has served as a consultant to some of the leading cosmetic companies, currently teaches as an Associate Clinical Professor of Dermatology at the Mount Sinai Hospital and is the Chief Surgical Attending for the Residents.

In addition, she is a contributor for NBC’s Today Show where she appears regularly.

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