Winter is tough on your skin. Learn the many ways the season harms your skin and how best to treat it.
Winter weather can be rough from snow and ice to simply never feeling warm, the harsh, dry air can make for miserable conditions.
The winter season is also a prime time for dry, cracked skin and rough, jagged cuticles. Although we tend to bundle up during the coldest times of the year, our hands and face are often left exposed to the elements, therefore bearing the brunt of the damage.
Cold air is only one of the factors that contribute to dry winter skin. The artificial heat used in homes and offices acts as a moisture sponge, absorbing any amount of hydration remaining in our skin. Investing in a good humidifier is always a great way to curb dehydrated skin during the colder months. Place humidifiers in the spaces you most often occupy to give your skin ample time to soak up the extra moisture pumped into the air.
Daily activities such as washing dishes and bathing your kids can also make matters worse. Cold temperatures make washing in warm water tempting, but this causes further problems for already stressed skin. Be sure to moisturize immediately after washing, and frequently throughout the day. Try a moisturizer with olive-leaf extract or vitamin E, as these help to eliminate the dryness and itchiness that comes with winter skin.
Not only does skin suffer from dry winter air, but nails and cuticles feel the negative effects of colder temperatures as well. Nails tend to become more brittle during winter because the cold air makes proteins more rigid and therefore more likely to break. Rubbing safflower oil or argan oil into the fingertips twice a day can help hydrate fragile nails. Another option is to slip on cotton gloves or socks after applying hand cream for a deep-hydration treatment.
It’s important to remember to eat well during the winter, as with all seasons, to get the nutrients needed for healthy, supple skin. Supplementation during cold weather months can make a big difference as well. Taking biotin twice a day works wonders for skin and nails, and also helps maintain healthy hair. Be sure to eat foods rich in protein, calcium, iron, and vitamins A, B, C and D, which can improve skin, nails and hair from the inside out.
Proper nutrition is always important, and in extreme weather conditions it becomes imperative to stay tuned in to the needs of our bodies in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Taking a few extra steps and remembering to replenish lost moisture can keep hands, nails and skin supple and hydrated throughout the coldest time of year.
Leslie Baumann, M.D., FAAD, is an internationally renowned, board-certified dermatologist, New York Times best-selling author, media personality and lecturer. CEO of Baumann Cosmetic & Research Institute and founder of the University of Miami’s Cosmetic Medicine & Research Institute, she authored the best-selling Cosmetic Dermatology: Principles and Practice and The Skin Type Solution, and has appeared on Good Morning America, The Today Show and The Discovery Channel.