About this time of year I begin to itch - a lot. And I have trouble sleeping because my throat becomes so dry at night that it’s almost painful. I compulsively apply chapstick to my lips and slather cream on my hands. Winter is so drying, especially here in Colorado that I feel like a big scarecrow sometimes. And when you turn on your heating system, it sucks even more moisture out of the air.  But there are ways to combat this drying winter weather that really work, if you follow them.

  • One of the first things I do when I start feeling dry is break out my humidifier. I swear this solved my sleep problem immediately but it has a multitude of benefits with regards to dry skin. Riley Greene, M.D., of the Denver Skin Clinic says that a humidifier won’t only help you feel better; it will make you look better too. “When the skin dries, wrinkles appear more prominent,” says Greene. "If your skin is hydrated, it will look plumper and hide the wrinkles." But many people are confused as to what type of humidifier to buy: warm mist, cold mist, big, small, etc. You can check out this article I wrote for Gaiamlife.com about humidifiers and how to pick the right one for advice.
  • Change your daily body and hand moisturizer to an ointment or crème, says Casey Gallagher, MD of the Boulder Valley Center for Dermatology. “You want to use something that you can squeeze from a tube or scoop out of a jar,” Dr. Gallagher explains. For your face, an ointment or crème might be too heavy during the day so a regular lotion will be Ok but just make sure it has sun protection. At night, be sure to use something thick and heavy—even a simple slather of Vaseline or Aquafor will do the trick.
  • Cut down on hot showers and baths. According to WebMD, the “intense heat of a hot shower or bath actually breaks down the lipid barriers in the skin, which can lead to a loss of moisture.” They recommend taking a lukewarm bath oatmeal or baking soda. I’m going to admit right now that although I trust this advice is true, it’s not something that I could do. I love my hot showers and am willing to suffer the consequences rather than give them up. Fortunately, Dr. Gallagher says if you simply make them shorter, then you should be fine. He adds that you should use a non-drying soap and be sure to slather on body crème or ointment within minutes after your shower or bath to lock in the moisture.
  • Lip protection is essential in the winter. Nothing is more uncomfortable or less kissable than dry chapped lips. Access Hollywood offers these tips to save your lips:
  1. Use a wet (wrung out) washcloth to vigorously “buff” the lip area. This provides just the right amount of exfoliation and removes dead dry skin, leaving behind a smooth surface.
  2. Rub everything you use on your face all over your lips - and be generous. This means moisturizers, Retin-A, AHA’s, etc.
  3. Finish with a sealant. Use something that is thick and emollient. This idea is to leave behind a barrier that sits on your lips throughout the night and prevents moisture from escaping. Some great examples are plain old Vaseline or Elizabeth Arden’s Eight Hour cream.
  4. In the morning, make certain you again massage your facial products onto your lips and you won’t believe how silky, plump and smooth they will look. Say goodbye to those undesirable dry, chapped lips!

What are your winter skin care tips?