Winter is the season that reminds some of us of cold, snow, bundling up, holidays and seeing family. Unfortunately, it’s also the season of dry skin. And excess dry skin isn’t just a key part of acne formation, it can also be painful. Let’s take a look at what happens to cause dry skin in winter, how to tell if your skin is actually dry, how to help your skin bounce back from dryness and how to prevent overly dry skin during winter.
Why does skin get dry in winter?
The changes that come with winter, particularly the change in temperature, create an environment that allows dry skin to thrive. The chilly weather outdoors, as well as the harsh conditions like wind and rain, can remove the natural oil from the skin, which is the body’s way to boost moisture. As moisture levels in the skin drop, our winter skin emerges.
But it’s not just the cold weather itself that leads to dry skin in winter. It’s also what the cold weather makes people do to get comfortable. As we crank up our indoor heating, the humidity in our homes and offices drops. With less moisture in the air, there’s less moisture available to our skin. If you tend to take hot baths and showers in the winter to heat up, you’re not alone. But the heated water can actually reduce your skin’s moisture levels. And if you have a fireplace, the heat and smoke it generates can dry out your skin. But can your skin still be dry if you’re moisturizing it daily? Yes. Here are some ways to know if your skin is too dry — and what to do about it.
Signs of dry skin
The most common signs of dry skin include:
• flaky or scaly feeling
• redness, especially in lighter skin tones
• skin that becomes more sensitive and easily irritated when touched
• stinging and burning feelings
• patches of roughness
Dry skin in winter may present with any or all of these symptoms, and the severity of each will depend on your skin type and just how dry your skin is.
Treating dry skin in winter
Treating dry skin in winter is about replenishing the moisture your skin has lost due to the environmental factors you just read about. The simplest way to do this is by using a good moisturizer for dry skin in winter, free of irritants, like the one included in the ProactivMD® 3-Piece System. This is important because dry skin is in a very fragile, easily irritable state, and using a moisturizer that has some harsher ingredients can lead to stinging and further irritation. The Ultra-Hydrating Moisturizer from the ProactivMD 3-Piece System is formulated with hyaluronic acid, a powerful humectant that helps pull in water for softer, smoother looking skin. It also helps restore your skin’s moisture barrier as it seals in moisture to fight dryness for up to 8 hours while you play in the snow during the day or crank up the heat at night.
It’s also important to apply the moisturizer just after lightly toweling off from the shower, in order to seal in as much of the water as possible. Drying your skin too intensely after a hot winter shower is a double negative for your dry skin. First, the hot water saps the moisture from your skin. Then, toweling off too roughly can further irritate dried out skin.
Preventing dry skin in winter
Besides applying the right moisturizer, it’s crucial to drink plenty of water to keep your body hydrated from the inside out. The winter supplies plenty of external factors that steal the moisture from your skin, so it is vital to keep your overall hydration up.
You can add an extra moisturization step into your skincare routine as winter rolls around, to give your skin a bit of extra moisture help. Make sure to moisturize your face and body directly after the shower. You can even put a hand cream near your sink to quickly seal in some of the moisture after you wash your hands countless times per day.
Also, limit harsh exfoliating treatments to avoid damaging the skin’s barrier. Exfoliation is an important skincare step when trying to avoid acne – but over-exfoliation can lead to irritation, made worse when mixed with dry skin.
Even though we associate winter with snow and rain, the cold can actually lead to dry air. Try installing a humidifier in your home to inject moisture into the air — and your skin!
If your hands are a problem area for dry skin in winter, remember to wear gloves outside. This can cut down on your hands’ exposure to the drying elements. Also try wearing gloves when washing your dishes. This helps because soaps and hot water can strip away the skin’s natural moisturizing oils.
If possible, you should also limit how close you sit near the fireplace or heater. The hotter it gets in dry climates, the more moisture is stripped directly from your skin! Layering up on warm clothing can be a great way to avoid turning the heater up too high.
Finally, continue to apply sunscreen each day. You might think that with short, cold, cloudy days you can stop including sunscreen in your routine, but UV rays from the sun can still damage your skin, so keep applying sunscreen before you go outside.
The bottom line
Winter doesn’t have to be the time for uncomfortable, dry, irritated skin. Taking the steps and time to give your skin the proper moisture it needs can make all the difference. (Psst: the proactiv® acne treatment systems include powerful moisturizers and hydrators that bolster your skin’s natural barrier to help lock in moisture and protect against the drying winter elements.) Happy winter!