By Elaine Cipriano for Life & Beauty Weekly


When your skin takes the brunt of winter’s wrath, make sure you protect it from drying and cracking. Staying hydrated and eating a healthy diet high in omega-3 fatty acids (found in foods like salmon) does help a bit, but there will always be areas of your skin that need some extra love and attention when the temperature dips.

“Cold air holds much less humidity, and when that dry air is combined with frigid winds, the moisture in your skin rapidly disappears,” says Jamil Asaria, MD, FRCSC, facial plastic surgeon and director at FACE Cosmetic Surgery in Toronto. “When we are indoors, the dry heating and circulation adds to that problem, leaving our skin parched of moisture.”

Here’s how to give your dry skin a moisturizing boost in these key trouble spots:

Chapped Lips
The skin on your lips is thinner than other places on your body, which is why your pout is prone to painful chapping and cracking. “The lips are often the first areas of our face that start to become dry and cracked when exposed to the elements,” says Asaria. “Once chapped, it’s hard not to lick our lips to try and soothe them, but this only compounds the problem and leads to even drier and more irritated lips.”

The remedy? Maintain a healthy barrier between your lips and the cold. Try rubbing a dab of a petrolatum-containing moisturizer over your lips when they feel dry. It’s practically magic.

Cracked Hands
All that diligent washing and sanitizing can leave your hands red and flaky and your cuticles cracked. To soothe dry, cracked hands, Dr. Benjamin Barankin, medical director of Toronto Dermatology Centre, suggests using a great moisturizer that has ceramides or urea in it. “Shea butter and glycerin are also good ingredients,” says Barankin.

When washing your hands, Barankin suggests using a mild cleanser instead of soap. He also recommends patting hands dry, not rubbing, and moisturizing immediately after washing. To protect your hand when you’re out, wear gloves (cotton is preferable to wool or cashmere, which can irritate sensitive skin). And be sure to use a thick hand cream throughout the day and before you go to sleep.

Red Face
In winter, the skin on your face is the most exposed to not only the cold and wind, but also the sun’s UVA/UVB rays. So don’t let up on sun protection just because you’re not basking on the beach. Use a daily broad-spectrum SPF 15 moisturizing sunscreen every day on your face.

For washing, make sure your daily cleanser is creamy, not drying. If you’re prone to rosacea or eczema, winter is not the time to use retinol-based products on your face, since they may exacerbate redness.

Callused Feet
In the summer, many women pamper their feet with pedis. But in cold weather, we tend to shove them in boots and forget about them. Bad idea. Your feet need just as much attention now — especially the heels, which are more prone to calluses in dry winter air.

“The key to keeping your feet healthy and smooth in the winter is exfoliation,” says Asaria. “At least twice a week, make sure to exfoliate dry, damaged skin with a pumice stone and apply a deeply absorbent moisturizer right after. Also make sure you are wearing warm boots when you’re outside, as skin exposed to cold loses its moisture quickly.”

Dry Scalp
The dry air takes its toll all over your body: Some people find that their dandruff gets worse in the winter. A simple over-the-counter dandruff shampoo used about three times a week will help. Rub it into your wet hair and let it sit for 10 to 15 seconds before rinsing; a second lathering is also recommended. Also resist the urge to take extremely long, hot baths and showers, which will make matters worse for your scalp and the rest of your skin.

Elaine Cipriano is a freelance writer who has worked at such leading magazines as Ladies’ Home Journal, Woman’s Day Special Interest Publications and Home. She is a frequent contributor to Life & Beauty Weekly.

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