How to protect skin during the winter, and what products really do the trick

Monday, November 5, 2012
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While crisp, cool weather may leave a healthy-looking rosy glow on cheeks, colder seasons can be harsh on skin. Extreme changes and inclement weather during the fall and winter can leave skin dry, chapped and cracked. Itching and dryness are, without question, the biggest concerns among senior patients, says Dr. Charles Moon of Advanced Dermatology in Cape Girardeau.

"The normal aging process leaves us more dry," he explains. "The oil glands in our skin make less oil as we age, which contributes to dryness. Some medications may potentially contribute to dry skin and dry mouth. Therefore, the less humid months of winter and the fact that folks turn the heat up in the winter (which dehumidifies the air) will affect aged skin more."

Keeping skin healthy during cold months isn't complicated, but it does take some extra effort, says Dr. Charles Zugerman, a dermatologist and associate professor of clinical dermatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. Taking a few simple steps each day will help skin look and feel great no matter the season. Here, a few tips on keeping skin healthy when the temperatures take a dip:

1. Continue to wear sunscreen. Protecting skin from UVA and UVB rays is important all year long. The sun can be particularly intense when it reflects off ice and snow on a clear and cold day. Apply a broad spectrum sunscreen to the face every day, and don't forget the hands, as they need protection, too.

2. Keep lips moisturized. When the weather turns dry and cool, lips may become chapped and cracked. Take a proactive approach of keeping lips deeply moisturized from the start. Throughout the day, continually apply a super-hydrating balm -- look for one with shea butter, aloe and an SPF.

3. Avoid long showers. Long, hot baths or showers can zap skin of moisture, so don't linger too long. When you do indulge, keep it short and moisturize immediately afterward, says Moon.

4. Moisturize right for the season. You might consider switching from a regular lotion to one that includes medication for dry skin or a thicker formula such as a cream or butter.

"I like moisturizers without fragrances, especially for people with dry/sensitive skin," says Moon. "Moisturizers with ceramides in them are particularly effective for dry or damaged skin. CeraVe is one I like that is available over the counter. Bland, thick moisturizers like Aquaphor or Eucerin are very good for skin that is very dry -- they are a little greasier, though, so they may not be right for skin that is not too dry."

5. Exfoliate your face. Because skin dries out so easily during cool months, dead skin cells can build up and clog pores. Use a gentle exfoliating cleanser a couple times a week to remove the buildup of oil and dead cells, revealing fresh, healthy skin.

6. Stay hydrated. Healthy skin goes beyond lotion and moisturizers -- it starts from the inside by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Make it your goal to drink water morning, noon and night.

BrandPoint contributed to this report.

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