● By Melissa Gulden
Wow-Worthy Winter Skin
Even here in beautiful Northern California, the weather can sometimes indeed be frightful. From cold wind to central heat, the elements can wreak havoc on our skin. Here are some ways to winter-proof your skin and end the season looking fresh for spring, and not as though you’ve been through a blizzard.
It all begins with frigid weather. Low humidity outside, heat inside, plus long showers all equal common triggers for dry skin. They weaken the proteins that make up your skin cells and erode the lipids, or fats, that glue them all together. Water sneaks out of these cracks in your skin’s barrier, and drying begins.
This break in the barrier can also let in pollutants and free radicals, which accelerate signs of aging, and it can cause the perfumes in your products to bother your skin and leave you itchy.
As a side effect of dehydration, your natural exfoliating enzymes stop functioning optimally. Dead cells cling rather than shed, so in the shower, always use an exfoliating body scrub to refine rough areas. A sugar-based scrub melts faster than salt, making skin soft.
I recommend getting a (believable) bronze glow to get you through the winter blues. This time of year, go for a gradual self-tanner, which can make your complexion one to two shades darker after each use. Apply before bed, then again every few days to maintain color.
For your glow to last, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Your skin needs to retain the hydration cold weather can strip away, so be liberal with a coconut oil-based moisturizer, which helps to bind in H2O. Always smooth lotion on damp skin—you only have a three-minute window for best results. Tip: Moisturize with the bathroom door closed, which helps maintain humidity, making it easier for the humectants from your lotion to draw in moisture to your skin.
For makeup, choose cream-based formulas. It’s better if they contain vitamin E or green tea extract, which can help calm red, inflamed areas. Use a cream blush, and a highlighter on your eyes to brighten them. For lips, which can be especially dry this time of year, choose a vitamin-rich balm. (Aquaphor is a great fix for chapped lips and skin.) And don’t forget sunscreen. In the winter, UV rays can interfere with skin-barrier function, so be sure to use an SPF 30 or higher every single day.
Finally, wearing scratchy fabrics is also a culprit to itchy skin, especially wool or synthetic fibers. So during the season of sweaters and scarves, try wearing a layer of soft cotton underneath. The fewer irritants on your skin, especially when it is already extra sensitive, the better.
You certainly don’t have to hide away indoors all season. By following a few simple steps, your skin will survive winter and you just might emerge relatively unscathed come spring.