One of the most common winter skin complaints is dry skin. Even oilier skin types will experience this, and then the skin will produce even more oils to compensate. Of course you need to moisturize and lotion your skin, I'll get to that in a moment, but you also need to start at the source. Make sure you're drinking enough water throughout the day (and, no, hot chocolate doesn't count.)
Just because it isn't hot as blazes out doesn't mean the sun has disappeared completely (unless you really do live that far north.) Find a sunscreen that you like and keep using it on your face and the exposed areas of your skin to avoid sun damage even in the colder months.
Exfoliating is scrubbing off the layer of dead skin that tends to build up over time and in the winter when skin is drying out this is especially important because it will help you get rid of any flakiness on your skin. You can do this multiple ways, including with store-bought exfoliates. My preferred way, though, is a homemade skin scrub made of mixing 1 cup sugar, 1 tsp olive oil, 1/2 tsp lemon juice, 1 tsp honey. Mix until it is slightly damp but not soaking, adding more sugar as necessary. Then just scrub it on in the shower every few days. You can also use it on your face if you like, as the sugar is fairly gentle. Make sure to also gently exfoliate your lips, which can be a problem area for most people.
Once you're out of the shower, apply a moisturizer of your choice. Some people prefer body oils, some people like lotion. What works for one person's skin might not work for another, so what you chose really depends on your personal preference. Finding one that works for you, though, is super important and so is applying it regularly, especially after showering and right before bed.
Take note of what areas of your body are particularly dry or irritated and give them a little extra TLC. For most people this would be your feet (in which case get a very thick foot lotion, or even just humble Vaseline, and apply them at night, wearing clean cotton socks over them to lock in the moisture.) Other problem areas though can be your elbows (covering your elbows in Vaseline/lotion and then cutting off the feet of old clean socks and sliding the tubes up your arms will help) or hands (you guessed it, gloves and lotion/Vaseline.)
I also tend to get quite chapped lips in the winter, so wearing Chapstick or another lip balm and laying off on the drying lipsticks is a good self-care method. And, for those of you that have piercings, be kind to them and apply a little extra of a non-irritating lotion to make sure they don't become dry and irritated.
Know what to Avoid
Products with alcohol in them, including some facial toners and most hand sanitizes, are very drying on the skin, so look for ones that are alcohol free. Also, go easy on hot showers, which can be rough on sensitive skin.
Special Treatments and Baths
Treat yourself to something a little more luxurious by making special baths to help your skin. Baths are a great time to add a few extra ingredients that are fantastic for your skin:
- Milk and honey. Honey is fantastic for skin and the lactic acid in milk counteracts dryness.
- Green tea. While touted for its anti-aging properties, green tea is also just fantastic for a general detox and bathing in it can calm any soreness.
- Ginger. A little bit of ginger in your bath is especially good at relieving symptoms for those of you who are prone to colds and the flu in this season.
- Baking soda. Did you know that baking soda softens skin? I had to try it myself to believe it but it does make your skin much softer which is great for dry spots.
- Epsom salt. Epsom salt is good for all kinds of things but added to a bath it's a great treatment for your skin and also good for your muscles.
- Olive oil. Note: be careful when getting out of the tub, olive oil will make it very slippery!
Remember, your skin doesn't just need help in the morning or at night. Most of the triggers for dry, uncomfortable skin like low temperatures, high winds, and powerful heating will be happening to you throughout the day as well. Keep a small tube of lotion in your bag during the day and reapply regularly to avoid undoing all the work you've been doing up to now. Your skin will thank you.
What is your winter skincare routine?