South Central WI Archive
  • Northeast Wisconsin
  • January 2010
Written by 

Protecting your skin and hair this winter

Throughout the Midwest residents are bracing for winter as we prepare our homes, our yards and our vehicles for the cold months ahead. The harsh winter air is also brutal on our skin and hair, and can have the same damaging effects as overexposure to the sun. Many report that they feel their skin begin to dry out as soon as the temps dip below 50 degrees. But as there is protection from the sun, there is also protection from old man winter as the cold air outside and heat inside rob our skin and hair of natural oils, leaving it dry, flaky, cracked, and irritated.

Here are some suggestions from dermatologists on routine care and products specifically formulated for winter to help us snowbirds through the discomfort of dry skin.

No hot showers or baths in the winter. This may seem like the last thing you want to do in the cold weather, but dermatologists warn that hot water dries the natural oils in your skin and recommend lukewarm baths and showers. For dry, itching skin, a lukewarm bath with oatmeal or baking soda can bring relief if it is followed by a cream moisturizer. Make sure you are using the correct products for your skin type. Keep balance in your skin, instead of using a cleanser that tightens and dries your skin, try a cream cleanser or one that doesn’t have suds.

Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. Dermatologists suggest switching your moisturizing formulas for the winter from lotions to creams, which are thicker, take longer to absorb but provide more lasting protection. While it is not necessary to purchase expensive products it is necessary to watch the ingredients in the products you choose. Look for natural ingredients that do not contain alcohol but contain more moisturizing oils such as olive oil, avocado oil, primrose oil or almond oil. You should be aware that there is a controversy that shea butter could clog your pores so you should use sparingly and watch for signs that this may occur. Moisturize before you leave the house and moisturize when you return for the best results.

It might sound elementary, but wrap up when you go outside. The skin that takes the most beating in winter are the areas that are exposed most often to the cold, biting air. Your face, neck, hands ankles and lips suffer the most and only thick clothing can protect them the best. These areas also tend to have less skin and will show signs of damage or aging first. Dead skin accumulates more rapidly during the winter so dermatologists tell us to exfoliate over the winter months to keep your skin looking renewed. Exfoliation also aids in absorbing moisturizers into the skin more rapidly and thoroughly. But they do not recommend harsh peels or masks and toners with alcohol.

Lips suffer the most. You can protect your lips with Vaseline but it is not a moisturizer. A good lip treatment with moisturizing natural oil keeps your lips from becoming chapped. Use this at night as your breathing dries your lips out as well. You should exfoliate your lips with a gentle formula to remove dry skin.

Protect your hair. We all deal with static electricity in our hair during the winter and this is the first sign of dry winter hair. Treat your hair to an oil treatment prior to shampooing to keep your hair shiny, silky and manageable. Olive oil is excellent for your hair and available in many products.

Eat right and stay hydrated. One controllable defense we have against the environment is eating a balanced diet and drinking plenty of water. This keeps you hydrated from the inside out and will only enhance all of these efforts you take to apply layers of moisturizer to every part of your body.

As in the summer, sun protection is important in the winter as well especially for your face which is exposed all year long. All this care will pay off in eliminating the aging affects of winter. So look forward to a season of more joy and moist skin and hair.

Kris Olson

Kris Olson is the owner/marketing consultant with Eventus Development, LLC helping small businesses strategize, create and execute online and offline marketing campaigns. For more information, please call 920-621-4082.

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