Top 5 Tips for Cold Weather & Winter Skin Care
From Toronto to Calgary, as Canadians, we certainly know how to endure cold weather better than most, but that doesn’t mean we’re immune to the effects that winter can have on our skin. Along with colder temperatures, winter weather brings changes in humidity and cold winds that can wreak havoc on our skin. Fortunately, there are lots of ways to protect your skin, and beat back the negative effects that Canadian winters have.
We’ve gathered 5 of the best tips to help you keep your skin happy and healthy during the cold winter months in Canada, but first let’s take a quick look at some of the most common skin problems that many Canadians experience when the weather gets colder.
Common Winter Skin Problems
Dry Skin – When the temperatures drop, it’s accompanied by a drop in the humidity levels. These reduced humidity levels cause the water in our skin to dry out and evaporate more quickly, resulting in skin that feels tight and dry. Often, this results in flaking, peeling and itchy skin if it’s left unchecked.
In addition, the methods we use to heat our homes and workplaces dries out the air even more, which can make the problem even worse, since we spend more of our time indoors during the winter.
Itchiness – Along with dry skin, the next most common skin problem we experience in the winter is itchiness. While this is usually a result of skin becoming too dry, it can also be caused by certain clothing and fabrics we wear. Since we cover more of our skin during the colder months, the skin that would normally go uncovered can be more sensitive to fabrics and materials, especially coarse or rough products like wool and other materials used in sweaters. This combination of dry skin and skin irritation leads to itching, and unfortunately scratching to relieve the itch simply makes the problem worse by damaging the surface of the skin.
Rashes & Recurring Skin Conditions – If you occasionally suffer from psoriasis or eczema, you’ll likely find that the winter time is when flare ups become worse and more frequent. This is due to the increased dryness of the air, reduced exposure to UV rays, and the drastic changes in temperature you experience when you go from heat inside to cold outside multiple times per day. These factors can make rashes and other recurring skin conditions worse and more frequent in the winter. We suggest seeing your dermatologist if your usual symptoms worsen or change.
Chapping – Since our faces are the one thing that is left uncovered most often during the winter, it’s no surprise that our lips can get seriously damaged from constant wind and exposure to cold, dry air. Dry skin on the lips leads to chapping, which is uncomfortable, unsightly and sometimes even painful. Chapped lips are extremely common in the winter, and without constant protection and treatment, can recur easily.
Cracking – If your hands or feet always seem to be dry during the winter, be wary of letting them get to the point where they begin cracking. Cracked skin on your fingertips and cracked cuticles around your nails can be very painful, and very unsightly. This is caused primarily by excessive dry skin, dehydration in some cases it can be a sign of infection. If you’re experiencing severely cracked skin, or cracking that recurs frequently or won’t heal, visit your doctor for advice.
While this may seem like a long list of problems to overcome, these common winter skin problems can be minimized with some simple changes to your regular skin care routine, and supplementing with a few essential products for even better results. Here, we’ve gathered our top 5 tips to relieve and prevent common cold weather skin problems.
1 – Wash in warm water, not hot water, and use a gentle cleanser
Although having a steaming hot shower or a nice long soak in a hot bath may feel heavenly during those chilly January days, hot water strips away much of the protective oil and moisture from our skin, leaving it dehydrated and dry. By dialing down the temperature of the water a bit, especially when washing your face and other skin that is more sensitive, you can minimize this effect.
You may also want to consider switching your normal cleanser for a gentler version during the cold winter months. Many dermatologists recommend non-foaming cleansers, as they have less alkalinity than those that foam up, and as such do not strip away as much moisture from your skin as they clean. We suggest opting for a neutral pH cleanser to minimize the drying effect that soaps and cleansers can have on your skin. And if you have to have that long hot bath, or piping hot shower, see tip 2.
2 – Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize
Yes, it may seem a bit repetitive, but this really is one of the best things you can do to make sure that your skin stays healthy when the weather gets chilly. The first thing you’ll want to do is moisturize immediately after you wash or bathe. This will help replenish the moisture your skin loses during the washing process, and keep the top layers of your skin from getting too dry. We suggest keeping a bottle next to the tub or near the shower so you can easily apply after washing, as well as small bottles near each sink in the house as a simple reminder to re-moisturize after you wash your hands or face.
Check out this great review of the best facial moisturizers for 2017. They look at a wide range of options, from the cheap and cheerful, to the more expensive brands and also provide options to order them online.
3 – Drink lots of water & stay hydrated
Your body will do its best to keep your skin hydrated, but without enough water your skin will be one of the first things to feel the effects of dehydration. Winter can be a time when we fall in to the habit of drinking more warm beverages like coffee and tea, but these have a diuretic effect and can be dehydrating. The best thing to drink, as always, is plenty of water. We suggest keeping a refillable water bottle close by, especially at work where it can be easy to miss drinking the necessary water we need unless it’s right there at hand. Keeping a full bottle at your desk or work station makes it easy to have small amounts throughout the day to stay hydrated.
4 – Add a layer of protection to your skin
Protecting your skin from the cold, wind, and sun is essential to avoid dryness and other cold weather skin problems. This can be done as simply as remembering a pair of gloves or mitts for your hands, and a scarf to help protect your face from the elements. In addition, you’ll want to invest in a good quality sunscreen. Many people forget that the sun shines down just as strong when there is snow on the ground as it does in the summer, and so they forget to apply sunscreen. Don’t forget to use sunscreen on your face whenever you spend some time outside on a sunny winter day. Lastly, an effective lip balm is crucial to protecting the skin on your lips, so look for one that has good moisturizing qualities as well as an SPF rating to provide additional protection from UV rays.
5 – Use a hydrating mask and humidifier at night
Another simple way to help minimize the effects of dryness during the winter is to use a humidifier in your room at night when you sleep. The added moisture in the air not only helps your skin feel better, but also helps relieve dryness in the mouth and nasal passages as you sleep, making it easier to breathe freely. In addition, avoid facial masks and peels that strip your skin of moisture, and instead use a deep hydrating mask. These hydrating masks will work well when combined with the use of a non-foaming cleanser as we described earlier to make sure that your skin doesn’t lose all of its natural moisture.
If you’ve started to notice the long-term effects of sun exposure or dry skin, especially on your face, you may want to consider options for reducing or reversing these effects on your skin. Silk’n has developed technology to help reduce visible signs of aging and sun exposure such as wrinkles and fine lines, sun spots, and lower levels of elasticity.
The Titan Anti-aging Device has been FDA approved, clinically tested and proven to safely tighten facial skin and lift facial contours, helping to reduce the visible signs of aging. The Titan uses a combination of three types of energy to stimulate cell renewal, helping to tighten skin and reduce sagging and improve the appearance of visibly aged skin.
We hope that you’ve found these tips helpful, and that you enjoy all that a snowy Canadian winter has to offer, but without the annoyances of dry, itchy skin. We encourage you to get out there and have fun this winter!
- Alyssa Naccarato