Friday, January 20, 2017

Winterizing Dos and Don’ts to Keep Your Skin Happy, Healthy, and Hydrated

It’s 20 degrees outside, but inside your home it feels like summertime. You look in the mirror and, to your horror, you look 20 years older. As if that wasn’t bad enough, your legs look like an alligator traded skin with you while you were sleeping. Are you plagued with dry, flaky skin that itches, looks red, and just feels uncomfortable? If so, read on to see what you can do (and what you should stop doing) to help your skin get through another blistery winter.

First things first. The “dryness” you feel on your face (and you may see as flaky skin) is most likely not technically “dry skin.” It is probably dehydrated skin. For a quick skin type primer: True-dry skin is oil dry. In other words you don’t emit enough oil naturally, and therefore don’t have blackheads, whiteheads, or breakouts. Dehydrated skin is water dry. Anyone (true-dry, oily, even problem/acne) can have dehydrated skin. If your skin looks flaky and feels tight, that is dehydration. This is true for the skin on your body as well.

Now for a quick explanation of what causes dehydration: Cold, dry air (like what you’d experience outside in a cold winter climate—or any day in Colorado) or hot, dry air (like the kind in a house that feels like summertime inside, even when it’s 20 degrees outside). In other words, all the conditions of a chilly winter season make your skin a prime target for dehydration. Following are some of the dos and don’ts to keep your skin healthy, happy, and hydrated throughout wintertime.

DO use a humidifier to help keep the air in your (warm) home moist. If you don’t want one in your living room, be sure to use a humidifier at night in your bedroom (and your children’s bedrooms—it’ll help keep them from getting sick). You’re sleeping, hopefully, 6-8 hours each night. The moist air from the machine will definitely improve the hydration level of your skin. And not just your face, but your whole body!

DO exfoliate your skin—all over! Use a body scrub (a sugar scrub is great!) or loofah sponge for your body and try a gel exfoliator, like Yonka’s Gommage, for your face. Facial scrubs and enzyme peels can also be used on your face. Exfoliating gets rid of the surface dead skin, revealing the soft, moist skin underneath. This will make your skin feel less tight and dried out. This step is essential, so exfoliate 2-3 time per week!
DON’T use a heavier moisturizer to hydrate your skin. Although in theory this sounds good, in reality it can clog your pores and cause breakout. If you have true-dry (oil-dry) skin, you may be able to get away with using a thicker cream. But if you still get blackheads and especially if you break out, do not use a heavy moisturizer. Exfoliating will go a long way to helping your day and night cream(s) do their job by alleviating excess dead skin that can make your face feel like it needs a heavy product.

DO use hydration helpers in your moisturizers. Add several drops of glycerin to your creams (day and night). Glycerin helps to add moisture to your creams without adding extra oil. Adding more oil to an already oilier skin type would mean catastrophe. I found a glycerin and rosewater product at a local drug store and put it in a plastic bottle with a dropper. Five to ten drops should be enough. Yonka makes a wonderful glycerin product that also includes many essential oils: Hydralia (see link explaining in full this product below).

Another hydration helper for your dried out winter skin is aloe vera gel, which can be found at most grocery or health food stores. Cleanse, use your toner, then apply a generous amount of aloe vera gel to your face and neck. Let it dry, then put on your moisturizer over that. Aloe is 99% water, so it helps hydrate your outer skin throughout the day. There are several articles about aloe on this blogsite.

DON’T use hot water. Hot water, whether in the shower or a bath, evaporates moisture from the skin, which definitely causes dehydration. But I love hot baths. They work wonders to warm my whole body up when I’m cold. In other articles about how to take care of your skin in the winter, they say not to take hot baths. OK for them, but not me! Call me crazy, but I’m just not going to take a cool shower or bath in the dead of winter! Bring on the hot water! 

To combat what the hot water may be removing from your skin, DO use oils. Adding a few capfuls (4-5 tablespoons) of oil to your bath will take away the alligator look to your skin. You could use expensive bath oils, extra virgin olive oil that your cook with, or even inexpensive baby oil. Since oil is lighter than water and will float on the surface, be sure to massage the water and oil into your skin while in the bathtub. The oil will help to lock in high levels of moisture to your skin. Be sure not to slip and fall when you get out of the tub, and wipe the excess oil off the tub to insure no one after you will have an accident. (Seriously, this is important!)

You can take the same oils as mentioned above and massage them into your skin while you’re in the shower. Don’t use these oils on your face, they are too heavy for that skin and could cause breakout. When you get out of the shower or bath, just pat your skin dry vs. rubbing. If you rub, you will take all that precious oil off your skin.

Oatmeal is another great skin hydrater. Aveeno makes oatmeal bath treatments that come in convenient packets. Just pop one into the bath and enjoy hydrated, less itchy and dry skin. This treatment is also great for sunburns and eczema. 

Winterizing your skin doesn’t take a lot of time or effort, but if you don’t do something to combat the cold, winter conditions your skin will suffer. So hydrate, exfoliate and enjoy another winter, wherever you live.