Updated 1/20/17. Winter is here and for many, this means dry, flaky, red and irritated skin. Think that simply layering on an extra coat of heavier moisturizer will do the trick? Think you don’t need sunscreen to protect your skin? Think again. Here are the five most common mistakes that people make and my expert solutions to keep it looking its best during the driest season of the year for your skin.
#1 Skipping sunscreen. Not using sunscreen on your face since you’re not spending much time outdoors? The UVA rays, the ones responsible for changing the DNA in the skin causing premature lines, wrinkles and sagging, are almost the same strength from summer to winter and can penetrate through clouds and windows in your home, car or office. Without fail, a moisturizer with sunscreen should be applied to your skin every single day of the year if you are serious about protecting your skin from the damaging rays. UV light is the #1 cause of premature skin aging and because of this, I say that sunscreen is the best anti-aging product you will ever use. Also, UV rays can interfere with skin-barrier function and prevent skin from maintaining proper moisture levels. Use a well-formulated UVA/UVB-protecting sunscreen like Daily Protection SPF 30 every day of the year, applied to both the face and neck. (Your neck is an extension of your face so don’t forget to protect this area, too.)
#2 Over moisturizing with the wrong moisturizer. When the skin is dry and flaky on your face, applying an extra thick coat of moisturizer will surely take care of this, right? Wrong. Your skin is like a sponge so apply an extra layer of moisturizer may be wasteful since the can only absorb so much. In addition, for blemish-prone skin types, too much moisturizer may cause congestion, bumps and breakouts. The solution is to use the right moisturizer with the most effective hydrating ingredients that actually repair the lipid barrier and prevent transepidermal water loss.
Some of my favorite moisturizer ingredients for repairing dry, flaky, winter skin are safflower, soybean, sweet almond, carrot, borage and sunflower oils as well as ceramides and linoleic acid. Unlike other types of moisturizing ingredients used in skincare formulations, these ingredients will actually correct the lack of oil and lack of hydration deep within your skin and repair your skin’s lipid moisture barrier to make your skin moist, supple and smooth. See the full list of the best ingredients for dry skin. And don’t forget to increase your exfoliation. After all, trying to moisturize cells that are already expired won’t get you very far. instead, using an exfoliating serum (like Ultra Gentle Smoothing Serum) a few nights a week will dissolve away dryness to reveal a smoother, healthier-looking texture.
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#3 Not adjusting your skin care routine. Our skin, like our bodies, is constantly changing. Add in a severe drop in the weather temperature and this will definitely affect your skin. You must make certain that you are using the right products to adapt to your skin’s changing needs. This might include switching from using a foaming face wash to a gentler cleansing lotion. You also can start using a serum underneath your moisturizer to give your skin a boost of much needed hydration. The key is to really listen to your skin. If your skin doesn’t feel comfortable, then your routine simply isn’t working and it is time to change it up. Consult with a trusted esthetician or skin care professional to put together a home-care routine that will properly address your skin type and its needs.
#4 Not sealing in moisture fast. Did you know that you have a 60 second window after cleansing your skin to seal in moisture while your skin is damp to prevent severe dehydration? Because the air is so dry in the winter, it looks for water wherever it can get it and this means taking it from your skin at its most vulnerable time after cleansing. When you wash your face, your skin is damp with water afterwards and since water acts like a magnet, it will attract water out from the deep layers of the skin and evaporate into the dry air. The result is even tighter, drier skin. After cleansing, when your skin is still damp, immediately apply moisturizer (or ideally an alcohol-free toner and serum beforehand) so your skin can stay moist and hydrated. The best toner to use in the winter is Moisture Infusion Toner since it corrects dryness and soothes winter-induced redness and irritation.
#5 Licking your lips and avoiding lip balm. Just like the skin on your face, the cold winter air can affect the skin on the lips causing them to get dry and flaky. When this occurs, licking your lips may provide temporary moisture and relief but did you know this act leaves the skin drier than it was to start? When the lips are moist on the surface from your saliva, they attract moisture from deep within the skin and will evaporate into the dry air through a process called osmosis. Adding to the lip dryness, there are digestive enzymes in saliva that can break down the skin causing the corners to crack when saliva gets trapped there. The best way to fix and heal dry, cracked lips is to use a well formulated, conditioning lip balm and apply it to your lips throughout the day. Even if you still feel the urge to lick your lips, the balm provides a barrier of protection to keep your natural moisture in the lips. Some menthol lip balms may be too irritating so consider avoiding ones with anything minty. To exfoliate dryness, mix a little sugar into some olive oil to create a smoothing lip treatment.
Don’t let the dry, cold weather and central heating turn your skin into a dry, flaky mess this winter. Make these adjustments and you are sure to have soft, smooth skin all winter long.
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