Self: Winterize Your Skincare Routine
A local doctor dispenses tips to keep your skin healthy even as the weather turns bitter cold.
In this city, it’s a common saying: “If you don’t like the weather in St. Louis, just wait a minute.” Seemingly, a minute is all it takes for the golden days of summer to give way to blustery winds and single-digit lows with hardly a fall season in between to buffer the extremes. It’s more than our outdoor plans and buoyant spirits that take a beating: our skin—once glowy and sunkissed—can become angry, red and raw come winter. With the remedy is Dr. Richard Moore, medical director of The Lifestyle Center, who offers five easy tips to help protect our skin this winter.
1. Shield Yourself
As the temps drop, we fire up our furnaces to stay warm, but this constant exposure to dry heat can strip our skin of moisture, says Dr. Moore. “Also, the high winds outside can chap skin and dry it further,” he says. To help prevent the escape of precious moisture, use a highly moisturizing lotion that will help act as a barrier to the elements. “Each person’s skin is different, so individuals should speak to their medical esthetician or skin care specialist for a recommendation on a specific brand or type of moisturizer based on their age, skin type and lifestyle,” he says.
2. Increase Humidity
To help further combat the drying effects of the furnace, invest in a humidifier or two, Dr. Moore recommends. A humidifier replaces the moisture that the furnace or fireplace has robbed from the air. In addition to dry, scaly skin, low humidity environments can aggravate nasal and respiratory ailments as well. Humidifying systems can be included in your central heating, or for a more economical option, portable humidifiers are available at most drugstores.
3. Keep Showers Cool
“In colder months, there is the tendency to want to take very hot showers,” Dr. Moore says. “But to keep skin healthy, the water temperature should be kept at a much cooler level, or the heat of the shower will rob skin of moisture, especially the skin on the legs and back.” Shaving, scrubbing skin vigorously or using a harsh or perfumed body washes can also strip skin. Dr. Moore recommends taking a comfortably warm bath infused with bath oils instead.
4. Be Cautious of the Sun
Many people forego protecting their skin from the sun’s rays during the winter months, but Dr. Moore says those who are active outdoors or who will be outdoors for a prolonged time should slather on a body and facial lotion containing SPF. UVA rays can penetrate thick cloud cover, and though you may not feel the warmth of the sun, snow and ice’s shiny surface can intensify rays. Conversely, Dr. Moore points out, most people stay huddled indoors when it’s cold, which can cause them to become deficient in sun-loving Vitamin D. The important vitamin helps keep bones strong and the immune system in fighting shape. If you’re not very active outdoors during the winter, the doctor says an SPF of 15 or 20 will do just fine.
5. Give Extra-Dry Spots More Attention
Even if you follow all of these tips, there are some body areas that are bound to get rough this winter. “For particularly chapped or dry elbows, knees, hands or feet, a regular moisturizer might not cut it,” he says. “Use an even more emollient cream on those areas—something containing petroleum, like Aquaphor, which provides a very good moisture barrier for these prone areas.”