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5 Ways to Save Skin from Winter Destruction

Keep your skin safe from polar-vortex temps and snowmageddons with these derm-approved tips.

Perfect woman waxed legs in winter sitting on a couch in the living room at home; Shutterstock ID 1165183798 Photo: Shutterstock / Antonio Guillem

The moment the temperatures change—from a moderately cold winter to a polar vortex—your skin suffers first. And as we have witnessed across the country in the past few weeks, winter isn’t slowing down anytime soon. (Does your skin feel it? Ours certainly does.)

But how on earth can you possibly keep your skin looking its best in the midst of extreme temperature dips, constant changes in humidity, and blowing snowmageddon storms? We turned to Dr. Lily Talakoub of McLean Dermatology and Skincare Center in Washington, D.C., for her best tips on how to save face this time of year.

“The dry, blistering, cold winter that we’ve seen these last few weeks is brutal to the skin,” says Talakoub. But what many people don’t realize is that on top of the outside temperatures, it’s just as much what we are doing to our skin when we step indoors that is wreaking just as much havoc. “Dry heat and fires inside our homes also trap the moisture leading to chapped, tight, inflamed, and depleted skin.” So perhaps think twice before aggressively pushing up the thermostat temperature the second you walk inside (good luck with that!).


“The dry, blistering, cold winter that we’ve seen
these last few weeks is brutal to the skin.”


Below, Talakoub shares a few of her tips on keeping your skin from looking lackluster this season.


Shower in lukewarm—not hot—water. “The hot water strips the skin from protective oils,” says Talakoub. So as tempting as it may be to crank up the shower temp when you’re freezing, you’re going to do more damage that way.


Stay away from lathering soaps, which actually remove moisture from skin. Instead, use an oil-based wash and avoid lathering on face and body. The lather in soaps takes the natural moisturizing fatty acids and oils and washes them away. “My favorite drugstore brand is Bioderma oil wash,” she says.


Use hair conditioner to shave your legs. For an added conditioning benefit, swap traditional soap for a rich hair conditioner on legs. Your skin will be as smooth as a baby’s bottom.


Use a cream, not a lotion. Talakoub recommends using a cream instead of traditional lotion to moisturize skin post-shower (and anytime you feel dry). She also recommends applying the cream within three minutes of getting out of the shower to see the most benefits. “The warm shower opens pores and the skin absorbs the cream much better,” she says. Why? Creams are oil based and lotions are water based. “In the dry winter, you need an oil-based product. As a general rule, use a product in a jar, these tend to be thicker than ones in a pump and provide more moisturization.”


Use gloves. Protect the skin on your hands, which get dry and cracked, by using gloves when washing dishes or using household cleaning detergents, she recommends. Don’t use antibacterial washes on your hands. Apply a thick hand moisturizer after every wash. And if the hands are cracked or itch, use a thick cream under gloves to sleep, such Avené’s hand cream.

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