healthy skinWinter can wreak havoc on your skin. The lower humidity levels, both inside and outside your home, the biting cold air and blustery wind can lead to chapped, dry, itchy, flaky uncomfortable skin from head to toe. However, by winterizing your skin care routine (much like you winterize your home and car), you can still have healthy skin and minimize or even completely avoid the price your skin pays for Mother Nature’s wrath.

Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize

Moisturized skin is happy skin and healthy skin, so slather it on morning, noon and night. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends switching to an oil-based moisturizer during the drier months because it helps form a better protective barrier. Ointments, for example, contain 80% oil and are very beneficial to those living in areas with low humidity. However, avoid using ointments on areas that get sweaty. Apply after exiting the shower or bath to lock in moisture. Put moisture back into the air with a humidifier. Place a few inexpensive drugstore models around the house, concentrating on the areas where you spend the most time.

Switch Cleansers

Put away those oil-reducing alcohol-based astringents and harsh cleansers. Instead, opt for gentle, fragrance-free face washes or even just plain warm water. Anti-aging and acne-prevention products can be especially drying to the skin, so use as little as possible unless directed to do otherwise by your dermatologist.

Think Warm Thoughts

Although it is tempting to make you shower or bath water as hot as you can stand it when temperatures outside drop below freezing, warm water is much better for your skin than hot. Hot water can actually rob your skin of its natural oils.

Don’t Underestimate the Power of the Winter Sun

Sunscreen isn’t just for those bright sunshiny days of summer. The winter sun is just as damaging to skin. Cancer and wrinkle-causing UVA rays are still out in full force during the winter months, and they come at you from above and below when reflected off the snow. Apply sunscreen regularly to exposed areas, exactly as you would in the summer. Don’t forget your lips! Take care of two issues with one product – look for a moisturizing balm that contains sunscreen.

Dress (and Undress) Properly

Layers are the key to proper winter dressing, according to the AAD. First, a cotton t-shirt protects skin from itchy fibers. Second, if you get too hot (overheating and sweat contribute to itchy, dry skin), you can easily strip off a layer or two. What you don’t wear is just as important as what you do wear. Wet clothes can irritate your skin, so strip off those nasty socks, gloves and any other wet garb and slip into something a little more comfortable.