8 ways to protect your skin as the temperature dips.
"Cold, dry air is very damaging to skin because it literally removes all moisture," says Jim Baral, M.D., a board certified dermatologist and assistant clinical professor at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. That explains why skin tends to feel itchy and dry and even cracks painfully in the colder months.
To get relief, follow Dr. Baral's Rx for parched skin:
- Use a mild facial cleanser. Dove and Basis are both good, non-drying choices, says Dr. Baral.
- Switch to a richer facial moisturizer. Drier times call for more intense moisturizers. Dr. Baral recommends BioMedic Extra Rich Moisturizer. Another good choice: Clinique Moisture Surge Extra, an oil-free cream gel designed to relieve dehydrated skin.
- Avoid exfoliating. The dry air in many homes actually exfoliates skin, explains Dr. Baral. You want to do the opposite: moisturize.
- Apply moisturizer to damp skin after showering. After patting -- not wiping off -- your body with a towel, slather on a rich cream. Dr. Baral's picks: AmLactin, or Biomedic Hydrating Body Emulsion.
- Pare down your shower schedule. Long, hot showers can rob your skin of precious moisture. To avoid this, shower as infrequently as possible -- every other day if you feel comfortable. Also, keep showers short and opt for warm water over hot.
- Run a humidifier in the bedroom. Letting a humidifier run while you sleep will help by putting moisture back into the air.
- Don't skip the sunscreen. You can't protect yourself enough from the sun, so don't be lulled into thinking that the rays aren't reaching you in winter. Continue to apply sunscreen, or a moisturizer with sunscreen, daily.
- Give chapped hands and feet some TLC. Dry and cracking hands and feet are common in colder months. To treat hands, reduce the frequency of hand washing (which saps moisture from skin) and apply a cream such as Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream. For feet, apply an antibiotic ointment such as Neosporin following a shower, while feet are still damp.
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