The leaves are off the trees, darkness comes calling at 4 PM, and plush sweatpants are starting to make an appearance. As you begin to pull your heavier clothing and accessories out of storage, make plans to overhaul your personal care practices as well.
The winter can bring with it harsh conditions that wreak havoc on hair and skin, thanks to dry air that depletes moisture levels. With the right approach, you can keep chapped lips, straw-like hair, and flaky skin at bay. Let’s start at the top and work our way down, shall we?
The frigid temps that come with wintertime are no friend to your skin, and the same applies to your hair. Your hair and scalp can get dried out by a combination of the climate and indoor heating, leading to brittleness and breakage. Just as the routine for your face gets beefed up by the addition of oils and substitution for better-hydrating creams, so should the attention given to your hair.
One good tip is to deep condition weekly with a nourishing formula. This will replenish the moisture lost in the battle against central heating and frigid days. It’s also important to pay attention to your scalp, as the skin there can get itchy and flaky from dryness. Cut down on shampooing, or introduce co-wash conditioners to some of your wash days. Investing in satin bonnets, pillowcases, and lined beanies isn’t a bad idea either.
No matter if your skin is dry, oily, or combination, as soon as the leaves fall off the trees and darkness starts to roll around at 4 PM, you might notice that a little more effort is needed to keep your skin happy. For the best winterproofing strategy, this could mean a number of things, such as switching out watery toners for hyaluronic acid-rich ones, adding a few drops of oil, introducing an occlusive layer to your nighttime routine, and so on. This is also a great time to pull out your best hydrating mist and put it to use every time your face feels a little tight.
A less obvious wintertime skin tip is to exfoliate regularly. While this might seem counterproductive since the increased level of care devoted to your skin seemingly indicates fragility, exfoliation is actually great for all skin types at this time of the year because it sloughs off dead skin cells that could be a barrier to proper absorption and reveals the smoother skin underneath.
While dry, chapped lips could typically be a result of inadequate water intake, fixing this issue often presents a greater challenge in the winter months due to other contributing factors. Unless you’re one of those folks who wears a balaclava or likes to wrap scarves around half your face mummy-style, your face is left exposed to the elements, while the rest of your body remains warm and protected under hats, gloves, coats, and boots. On second thought, the face-covering mandates that accompany the current pandemic might provide a level of protection from the onslaught of bitter winds and snow.
The exposure to harsh environmental factors is what exacerbates chapped lips during the winter months, as the skin in that area tends to dry out faster than the rest of your skin. This is due to a smaller concentration of oil glands in that area. In addition to adequate water intake, easy ways to winterproof your lips are to slather on a lip mask at night and keep a good lip balm on hand during the day. I’m partial to the XXX.
The same rules that apply to your face as far as exfoliation and moisturizing apply here as well. Ashy, lizard skin is not cute to look at, neither does it feel great. Dry body skin can be itchy and sometimes painful. Plus it won’t be long until your significant other begs you to apply some cream to keep from scratching them up when your limbs rub up against theirs in bed.
To winterproof your body, practice physical exfoliation with products like sugar scrubs and desquamating mitts, or employ chemical exfoliants such as AHA body lotions. When choosing a moisturizer, look out for formulas that contain ingredients like shea butter, lanolin, and ceramides. As tempting as the comfort of a super hot shower may sound, try not to indulge in those too much as the elevated temperature strips the skin of essential sebum and can damage the moisture barrier.
Hands & Feet
I’d like to think that pretty much everyone has their hand care routine down pat by now, thanks to the constant dryness we were all suffering at the start of the pandemic when handwashing activity increased significantly. There’s not much to change in that respect, except perhaps seeking out a richer formula to use if your current one won’t cut it. Invest in hand masks if necessary, and make sure to protect those appendages with gloves during activities like cleaning with chemicals.
For your feet, don’t be tempted to neglect them thinking that they’ll spend most of the season shoved into shoes. You don’t need an elaborate foot care routine to take care of your feet. It could be as simple as extending the use of a sugar scrub past your ankles or using a pumice bar on each foot for a couple of minutes. Other options include foot files, which can be used wet, and exfoliating socks, which do all the heavy lifting. Pay special attention to your heels, soles, and interspaces when you apply your preferred cream or body butter, and wear slippers or socks indoors to protect them from the dip in temperature.