Winter’s trademark temperature drops, low humidity, chilly winds, and — depending on where you live — snow, all have negative impacts on skin. What’s more, the things you do to stay warm during the season, such as sitting by the fire, turning on the heat, and taking long, hot showers, are equally as harmful.
If winter for you means sensitive, dry, red, chapped skin, you’re certainly not alone. And if you’re looking for a way to combat this now and in the winters ahead, you’ve come to the right place.
Tips for Maintaining Healthy Skin All Winter Long
Whether you suffer from skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, or rosacea and experience painful flare-ups every winter, or the season just does a number on your skin year after year, these are some of the best things you can do mitigate and even prevent winter skin troubles moving forward.
Avoid Showering or Hand-Washing With Hot Water
While a long, hot shower can be hard to resist when you’re cold, it’s going to strip the natural oils away from your skin, dry it out, cause itching and redness, and exacerbate any existing skin conditions you might have. The same goes for hand-washing, because even though you’re washing your hands for a much shorter duration than a shower, you’re doing it multiple times a day, and that adds up.
Per the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, if your skin appears red after showering or washing your hands, the water is too hot. Instead, opt for lukewarm water. And, as soon as you dry off — pat dry, don’t rub — immediately apply a moisturizer to lock in water and prevent further dryness.
Tweak, Don’t Overhaul, Your Skincare Routine
When the holiday sales hit your favorite beauty retailers, use this opportunity to replenish your current skincare regimen instead of buying new products to try. Winter is not the time to test out a serum you heard about on social media or explore unfamiliar ingredients. Depending on how the cold, dry air impacts your skin, you might even be paring down that current regimen.
While you may be able to use harsher ingredients like retinoids, exfoliating acids, and vitamin C daily in warmer seasons, winter’s cold air and dry indoor heat can make your skin more sensitive to them, requiring you to dial back the frequency of use.
That being said, some ingredients — retinoids in particular — take your skin some time to get adjusted to, and you don’t want to disrupt the progress you’ve made from consistent use. In this case, you could opt for a lower potency solution, switch to applying every other day, or moisturize before and after applying to create a hydrating buffer that won’t impact your retinoid’s efficacy.
Speaking of moisturizing, that’s one area of your regimen you can beef up in winter…
Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize
This is the time to layer on those rich night creams, hydrating masks, and oils. Be on the lookout for occlusive ingredients like shea butter, beeswax, and squalane — these will help create a protective barrier on your skin’s surface that prevents moisture loss and allows dry, cracked, or peeling skin to repair itself.
Humectants are another common hydrating ingredient you might come across, but instead of locking in moisture you already have, they pull water from anywhere to your skin’s outer layer. In humid conditions where moist air is abundant, this is great. But in the cold weather, with moisture already limited, humectants might absorb water from the skin itself, exacerbating dryness. A pro-tip for making the most of humectants is applying them to damp skin.
Wearing sunscreen is nonnegotiable year-round — even in the winter, even if it’s cloudy out, and even if you’re staying indoors, as Ultraviolet A (UVA) rays, which cause tanning and wrinkles, can permeate clouds, fog, and glass. Ultraviolet B (UVB) rays, which cause sunburns, might not be as strong as they are in the summer, but they’re still there. If you’re in a region that experiences snow, sunscreen is especially important. Snow reflects 80% of the sun’s rays, doubling your UV exposure.
Be sure to wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher daily, reapplying multiple times as needed.
Exfoliate Gently and In Moderation
Although your skin might be more sensitive at this time of year, gentle exfoliation is a key player in the fight against dry skin. If your skincare regimen already features a retinoid or chemical exfoliant like glycolic, lactic, or salicylic acid, you should be fine to continue using it regularly, if not in a scaled back capacity.
As a general rule of thumb, avoid using harsh physical scrubs on your face, and not just during winter. A dry brush or gentle body scrub can be used to slough away dead skin on your arms, legs, and torso.
If your skin’s handling the winter weather well, you can up your exfoliation game with microdermabrasion. During this procedure, a licensed professional will use microcrystals to sand your skin’s surface and remove dead skin cells, leaving it rejuvenated. Microdermabrasion also helps stimulate collagen production, which enhances your skin’s elasticity, and leaves skin cells more capable of absorbing moisture.
Book a Facial
Winter skin is prone to being dry and dull, so consider scheduling a brightening treatment or a Hydrafacial with a licensed esthetician to restore your skin to a healthier state. One of the most popular and effective facials available today, a Hydrafacial revitalizes your skin in three primary steps: deep cleansing to loosen any dead skin cells, extracting congestion from pores with a painless suction, and intense hydrating with rich moisturizers, peptides, and antioxidants.
Save Your Skin This Winter at PCI Academy
Whether you’re in need of a facial or just want to find the right products to treat your winter skin, PCI Academy’s knowledgable estheticians-in-training — supervised by licensed industry professionals — are here to help.
Browse our menu of skin services to see what’s available, or book now to start restoring your skin right away.