If you live in the northern hemisphere, it is officially winter. Despite mild temperatures thus far in much of the United States, winter typically brings cold sometimes frigid temperatures and dry air which more often than not disturbs the skin’s moisture balance. Those with skin conditions, such as eczema, often experience flare ups during the winter due to the increased dryness of their skin. To keep your skin soft and supple, and prevent skin ailments, everyone should “winterize” their skin regimen. The same way many women have 2 foundation shades–one for spring/summer and one for fall/winter–you should have at least 2 skin regimens that reflect the changes in the environment! Given such, your regimen will be based on your location. Those in warmer states/countries may not need as much of an adjustment, where as those in northern latitudes will have very clear differences in their regimens.
Say it with me: “Moisture is key.” In areas where the temperature is below 40 degrees for most of the winter, there is typically little available moisture in the air. As a result, the air will try to pull moisture for your skin or hair, resulting in dryness. The relative humidity (humidity and dew point) on a weather forecast is a great indicator of when moisture levels in the air are low. This is also why many ladies with natural hair avoid products with the humectant glycerin during colder months. Using a heavier butter-based (shea, cocoa, etc) moisturizer can help keep moisture in your skin. For example, though coconut oil is my go to during the summer, I switch to a much heavier homemade shea butter mix to moisturize. Less substantial moisturizers (i.e. mineral oil/petroleum based) are unlikely to keep your skin soft and truly moisturized for 24 hours, especially once the cold air reaches your skin (Author’s Note: Petroleum based products are great for keeping moisture in and forming a protective barrier after you’ve used a moisturizer, user Beware!. Using a moisturizing soap (note: not surfactant based “soaps”) is also beneficial. A true soap is a saponified (alkali reaction, typically KOH) vegetable oil.
Don’t forget to exfoliate. Dry skin can accumulate particularly faster during winter. Exfoliating not only removes dry, dead skin but also helps your skin better absorb moisturizers. Monthly or biweekly should be a good starting point, adjust based on your specific skin needs. Be sure NOT to over exfoliate! Never be rough with your skin when exfoliating! If you notice your skin becoming rough/dry/patchy/inflammed after exfoliating: stop exfoliating and apply coconut oil to over-exfoliated skin at least 2x a day until the skin softens. Try a sugar/oil scrub with a few drops of your favorite essential oils, avoid exfoliants with polyethylene beads.
Incorporating more foods with high omega-3 fatty acid content can do wonders for your skin. Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids include: flaxseed oil, walnuts, sardines, salmon, beef, and soybeans (opt for organic). Also be sure to stay hydrated, drink plenty of water and eat a balanced diet of fresh fruit, vegetables, and protein.
Protect Your Skin
This is a given, but always wear appropriate clothing in cold weather. This includes a proper warm coat, gloves, scarf, hat, etc. In addition, you should continue to wear a sunscreen during the winter. This is especially true if you do any winter sports or outdoor winter activities!
Suggested Winter Skin Routine:
- Wash with true soap
- Moisturize with a heavy butter or heavy oil
- Apply SPF face moisturizer in the morning
- Incorporate Omega-3’s in at least 1 meal
What are your winter skin care tips?