Winter Skin Survival Guide

December 1, 2008
Allison Tsai

This winter, when you're down in the trenches of chapped lips and cracked skin, resolve to keep your beauty wits about you. Arm yourself with a skincare regimen that will combat the weather and leave your skin flawless, not flaky.

This winter, when you're down in the trenches of chapped lips and cracked skin, resolve to keep your beauty wits about you. Arm yourself with a skincare regimen that will combat the weather and leave your skin flawless, not flaky.

"The goal is to go into winter with as healthy skin as possible, so you will come out with as healthy skin as possible," says Joel Schlessinger, M.D., ITK advisor and dermatologist in private practice in Omaha, Nebraska.

The first step in protecting the skin is identifying the environmental triggers. Dry air is a skin dehydration culprit, says Helen M. Torok, M.D., a dermatologist based in Medina, Ohio. "Eighty percent of the skin is water, and the cold, dry air sucks the moisture out of our skin."

MOISTURIZE

Finding the right moisturizer can be a challenge, and which is best for you could depend on your skin type.

"The biggest mistake when choosing a moisturizer is getting one that feels good on your skin, but doesn't actually moisturize," Dr. Schlessinger says. "It's also important to make sure the ingredients aren't going to cause allergies. For instance, certain fragrances and colors can be irritating."

According to Dr. Schlessinger, "If you have oily skin, or do not have severely dry, cracked skin, a lotion instead of a thick cream could be fine."

Skin Survival Tip #2:

PROTECT

The sun doesn't stop shining in the winter, and neither does sun damage or the risk of skin cancer, says ITK advisor Michael S. Kluska, D.O., F.A.A.C.S., F.A.C.O.S.

"You should still be using sunblock in the winter - the sun shines through your car windshield, when you're walking to your car, and especially when you're outside shoveling snow because of the reflection off of the snow."

In addition to an all-over sunscreen, it is imperative to protect the lips with an SPF and moisturizing balm, Dr. Schlessinger says.

"Products that contain sunscreen are very important, and most people don't remember that in the winter. Especially when skiing or being outdoors, you need to protect your skin and lips."

Even better, find sunscreens and lip balms without preservatives, Dr. Torok adds.

Skin Survival Tip #3:

REJUVENATE

Just because you don't want to get out of bed on those dark, cold mornings, doesn't mean you should give up on making your skin look its best. It's never too late to reverse sun damage and diminish fine lines.

Just because you don't want to get out of bed on those dark, cold mornings, doesn't mean you should give up on making your skin look its best. It's never too late to reverse sun damage and diminish fine lines.

"You can use retinols even in the winter," Dr. Torok says.

Retinol is a topical vitamin A acid that can improve the texture of the skin, diminish fine lines and improve pigmentation from sun damage.

For the décolleté and hands, Dr. Schlessinger suggests using a product with human growth factors to improve the collagen in the skin. "It repairs skin damaged from sun exposure," he says.

With these winter skin survival tips, you can greet this winter with fresh, glowing skin. And as Dr. Torok tells her patients, remember to CHAP - Cover, Hydrate And Protect - before your lips and skin become chapped.

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