We may had just seen the warmest November for many years but Winter is truly now upon us. With red alerts posted for the Scottish regions and the North of the country, we can expect temperatures similar to last year. Most people worry about travel arrangements and how to cope with journeys they have planned but few of us remember to look after our skin and by the time we do it’s usually too late. Leading dermatologist Dr Doris Day who works out of Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City says, “The change of seasons is always a stress on the skin and body in general. I often see people flaring with skin conditions at this time of year. Many subtle things can really affect your skin.” There are many factors that affect our skin, the freezing cold, the chafing winds and the frequent changes of warm to cold environments. All these add up to leaving our skin feeling parched and dry due to lack of moisture. But with some simple preparations, and tips we have gleaned from experts like Dr Day along with Dr. Deborah Sarnoff, who is an attending dermatologist at the North Shore-LIJ Health System in Greenvale, N.Y., you can provide adequate defence for your skin.
#1. Short Showers
It is an unfair paradox that the very things that keep us going in the winter, like long bathes and staying under the shower for ages, can actually damage our skin in the winter months. Showering for longer can leave our skin desperate for moisture as it dries out our skin without replacing the water content. Try opting for shorter showers and dip into more lukewarm baths and showers and make sure you pat your skin dry afterward, following up quickly with a layer of moisturizer from head to toe. Also, always use a hydrating shower gel instead of soap for extra skin enrichment as soap can dry out your skin.
#2. Keep Using Sunscreen
Even though the winter sun is weaker than in the summer, we should still protect yourself against it. Choose skin creams that have a built-in SPF sunscreen in them and make sure it has a rating of at least 15 or higher. Day and Sarnoff said. For those who spend a lot of time outdoors — whether working or skiing If you tend to spend a lot of time outside, despite it being winter, your rating should be over 30 SPF.
#3. Swap Lotion for Cream
Creams are typically richer and more moisturising than lotions and will have more oil content in them which provides a barrier on the skin. This helps to prevent water escaping from the skin and protect against different temperature and humidities. Dr Day says. “Skin usually feels better if you bump up to a richer moisturizer that has more oil content and less water content”. Sarnoff says, “It’s definitely good to put it on at night.”
#4. Wear Gloves
Even people that don’t normally suffer from hand dryness and dermatitis may do so in the winter. Hands have to withstand freezing temperatures, wet and chafing winds and changing from hot to cold environments. We tend to forget to wear gloves until our hands are too cold and for those of us who suffer from Raynauds Disease,, it is an absolute must to keep our hands warm. Dr Sarnoff recommended wearing them every day until spring. That’s because even minor skin chapping on the hands can turn into fissures that become infected, she said. “Then, moisturizers burn, then people don’t want to use them, then they go into a bad spiral down. If you start using gloves when it first gets cold outside, that won’t happen. Protecting skin early is good.”
Sounds like good advice to us!