It's no surprise that Old Man Winter wreaks havoc on our skin. Cold suppresses moisture, much needed by our skin, and dry indoor heat and air pollution sap it of its suppleness. But don't worry, it's easy to fight back. Follow these tips to keep winter skin healthy and beautiful.
FACEFirst rule of thumb: Don't over-wash. At this time of year, your complexion is much more sensitive to allergens and oils in skincare products. If you wash too often, you'll dry out your skin, says Alan Dattner, M.D., a holistic dermatologist in New Rochelle, N.Y. "There's no replacing the natural substances in the skin," says Dattner.
Let steam from the shower wash your face in the morning, and give it a quick rinse with warm water, or with a cleanser, at night. Most dermatologists warn not to use heavy products that strip skin of its natural oils. Try the new Olay Warming Deep Purifying Cleanser ($10, drugstores).
Taking the outer layer of dead skin off your face also helps, as long as you don't overdo it. Use an exfoliating product with glycolic acid once a week. If you want to treat yourself, get periodic facials at a spa. Or apply a mask, such as Shiseido White Lucent Intensive Brightening Mask ($66, department stores) or DDF Sulfur Therapeutic Mask ($34, ddfskincare.com), once a week.
To battle dryness, you'll need to use moisturizer day and night. "As winter wears on and the humidity drops, moisturizing frequency must increase," says James Fairfield, M.D., a dermatologist in Lansdale, Penn. Look for products that have enough oil to hydrate your skin, but not so much they make you break out. Try Lumene Vitamin + Radiant C Beauty Drops ($22, cvs.com), or a good at-home kit, such as Cygalle Healing Spa ($175, cygallehealingspa.com), which includes an aromatherapy mist.
Serums--oilier, lighter moisturizers--work wonders in the winter, says Lise Corriveau, director of skincare at Gene Juarez Salons & Spas in Seattle. "Serums are based on micro molecules that actually penetrate the skin," says Corriveau. "They easily bring dry skin back to normal." Try MyChelle Apple Brightening Serum ($34, mychelleusa.com).
Maintaining the right pH of your skin is also important. To keep skin healthy, use products with alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), which can help even out pigmentation and tone down fine lines. For do-it-yourself masks, slather on natural sources of AHAs: vinegar, sour milk or yogurt. Or try something ready-made like Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel ($39, juicebeauty.com), a hydroxy acid complex full of organic fruit.