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10 ways to protect your skin in cold weather

December 05, 2017 | UCI Health
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With chillier weather here, now is the perfect time to begin changing your daily habits to prevent dry, chapped skin.

Bathing five to 10 minutes in lukewarm water will keep your skin in good health.

“Hot water feels great in the winter, but it strips away natural oils and dilates your blood vessels, which causes your skin to lose moisture. Taking shorter showers or baths allows just enough of moisture into the skin,” says dermatologist Dr. Janellen Smith of the UCI Health Dermatology Center.

Here are other important tips:

1. Block the winter sun

It’s important to use sunscreen of at least 30 SPF all year round. There are many non-greasy moisturizers with sunscreen added.

2. Avoid acne flare-up

Avoid greasy skincare products. “It’s best to select a skincare product that does not contain a lot of oils, to avoid clogging pores. A lighter moisturizer is perfect for the winter,” says Smith.

3. Natural isn’t the best

Products labeled as natural or organic can be misleading, as the ingredients are unregulated and may not be completely pure.

Avoid products that are loaded with fragrances, such as lavender. Mineral oil, glycerin, lactic acid and lanolin, to name a few, are recommended ingredients to look for in skincare products.

4. Protection in the home

Keep your home warm, but don’t overdo it. “Heaters can dry the skin. If the air in your home seems a bit too dry, use a humidifier,” says Smith.

5. Protecting skin conditions

Steer clear of creams with fragrances and additives.

“People with psoriasis and eczema should speak with their dermatologist about the correct medicines and a good, basic moisturizer for the winter months,” says Smith.

The groin and armpits should be cleaned regularly using a non-soap cleanser. Wash other areas less often to cut down on irritation, recommends Smith.

6. Cover up older skin

The natural oil in skin diminishes with age.

“The outside and inside barrier of older skin breaks down, causing fewer channels to bring moisturizer into the skin. It’s important to wear sunscreen and keep covered to defend the skin from irritants,” says Smith.

7. Layer with caution

Stay clear of fabrics that will irritate your skin, such as wool. Layering your clothing to keep the winter winds off of your body is important, so wear a material that is smooth and feels comfortable.

8. Buy a non-soap cleanser

Select a skin cleanser that is labeled as non-soap; it has milder ingredients and the least amount of fragrance and deodorants.

“Non-soaps are better, because they will not irritate the skin. Avoid organic, as ingredients are frequently allergens and not completely pure,” says Smith.

9. Exercise with caution

When exercising outdoors, it’s important to be well covered in the winter to protect against winds and sun. Colder air doesn’t have as much humidity and will leave your skin dryer than usual.

10. Grab the lotion after washing

After washing your hands, follow up with a moisturizer to trap water into the skin. “If you need to have your hands in water most of the time, I’d suggest wearing waterproof gloves to keep in as much moisture as possible,” says Smith.

Making simple changes to your everyday routine will make a difference in your skin’s health this winter, so begin applying a few of these tips to keep your skin in top condition.

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