Beating Winter Skin Blues

Got the winter beauty blues? It's no wonder: Cold, dry air and whipping wind can wreak havoc on the health of your skin, face and nails, whether you're running inside or out. According to Dr. Rhoda Narins, past president of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery (ASDS), winter's glaring sun, low humidity and bitter cold temperatures can cause a blizzard of negative effects on the skin, making it dry, red, cracked and chapped.

But don't resign yourself to flaky, itchy skin this season. Follow these tips to enjoy the great outdoors and maintain your natural glow.

Save Your Skin

"The steps to preventing dry winter skin are gentle cleansing, moisturizing and protection," says Dr. Charles E. Crutchfield III, clinical associate professor of dermatology at the University of Minnesota Medical School.

Use a cleanser that doesn't contain any harsh detergents or chemicals that can strip skin of its natural oils and moisture. Crutchfield recommends Dove Beauty Bars ($10 for three, drugstores) and Vanicream Cleansing Bar ($3, psico.com). "These have low to no detergents and minimal to no fragrances or preservatives," he says, "leaving the natural moisturizers intact."

Although it may be tempting to slough off flaky skin, ignore the urge to scrub, which will make irritated skin more inflamed. Instead, if you choose to exfoliate, use something gentle, like the non-stripping, foaming formula of Bath & Body Works Daily High Lather Velvet Tuberose Body Scrub ($14, bbw.com).

Crutchfield advises moisturizing twice a day. We like the shea butter, oat and eucalyptus extract, orange oil and glycerin in Cur?l Ultra Healing Lotion ($6, drugstores), great for all-over moisture or for spot-treating winter-chapped areas like elbows and knees. The ultra rich Aveeno Intense Relief Repair Cream ($14, drugstores) uses colloidal oatmeal and pure oat essence to relieve dry, irritated skin within the first 24 hours of applying--without a cloying scent.

Before bed, apply the deeply penetrating NEOVA Night Therapy ($75, procyte.com), which uses copper peptides to restore radiance, promote collagen and elastin production, and protect against free radicals, while humectants and green tea replenish moisture.

When skin is irritated, "avoid wool and rough clothing directly touching your skin," says Dr. Linda Stein Gold, director of dermatology clinical research at Henry Ford Hospital. These fabrics will only aggravate the skin's condition, so stick with cotton.

Lip Service

"Lips need extra care in the cold months because they don't trap and hold in moisture as well as the skin, leaving one's mouth open to dryness and cracking," says Dr. Erin Welch, assistant professor of dermatology at the University of Texas--Southwestern.

It may be tempting to lick your lips during a winter run, but saliva actually contains enzymes that can break down the tissue and create cracks. Your best bet for smooth lips is to keep them coated with a balm enhanced with antioxidants and SPF that offers protection from the sun's ultraviolet rays. The zinc oxide in Thymes Essentials Lip Balm SPF 15 ($5, thymes.com) blocks UVA/UVB rays, while the botanical ingredients restore skin. Narins says to avoid products such as petroleum jelly and high-shine lip-gloss, as they attract the sun and intensify damage to the lips.

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