The Doctors: Strategies to protect your skin against winter
The blustery cold outside and cranked-up heat inside isn’t very kind to your skin: Dry air everywhere depletes it of moisture, leaving it flaky, itchy and cracked — not to mention the fine lines and wrinkles that tend to become more noticeable. Try these strategies to help protect — and replenish — your skin:
Keep showers short. Like five or 10 minutes, quick. That’s about the right amount of time that’ll add moisture, according to the American Academy of Dermatology; much longer and your skin will begin to dry. Also set the water temp at lukewarm (hot water removes natural oils more quickly) and use a gentle, fragrance-free cleanser (instead of deodorant bars or regular soaps). Post-shower, pat your skin dry (it’s less irritating than rubbing) and immediately slather on the moisturizer to trap water in the skin. And speaking of moisturizers …
Choose ointments or creams over lotions. They tend to work better, and irritate less. Oil-based ointments (that contain olive or jojoba oil, for example) are particularly good because they form a protective layer on the skin. Other soothing ingredients to look for include lactic acid, urea, hyaluronic acid, dimethicone, glycerin, lanolin, mineral oil and petrolatum, the AAD says. Moisturize your skin as needed throughout the day, and don’t neglect your lips — use a balm that feels good when you apply (if it stings or tingles, switch to another).
Wear sunscreen. Yes, even in winter for a good list of reasons: exposure to the sun’s rays increases the risk of developing dry skin, wrinkles, age spots, spider veins and skin cancer. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher on all exposed skin.
Protect your hands. They often feel the effects of a dry environment first, so slip on warm gloves outside and wear waterproof ones inside if your hand are frequently immersed in water, the AAD suggests. And after every hand wash, use a non-greasy cream.
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