Soothing Winter Skin

By Emily Gurnon, Contributing Writer
1/3/2013 2:09:09 PM

Winter can take a bitter toll on skin. The drier air often brings drier skin and roughness. It can even lead to painful cracking. Aging can make the dryness worse. As we get older, we have fewer sweat and oil glands.

But there are ways to help keep skin soft and healthy all year round. The American Academy of Dermatology and the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery offer these tips for preventing or soothing dry skin:

-Moisturize. Moisturizer helps protect against the elements. Apply it right after a bath or shower. That way, water and oils are sealed in. Keep using it throughout the day.

-Choose warm showers instead of hot. Limit shower time to 5 or 10 minutes. Hot water dries out the skin. Don't wash your face more than once a day. Instead, rinse it with cool water.

-Use gentle soaps. Deodorant bars, antibacterial soaps and perfumed soaps all make skin drier. The same is true for products with alcohol, such as hand sanitizers. Choose mild, fragrance-free soaps or a moisturizing soap substitute.

-Shave right after a shower. Hairs will be softer. Using a shaving cream or gel will keep irritation from razor blades to a minimum. Leave the cream or gel on your skin for 3 minutes before starting to shave.

-Wear gloves outside. It's a simple way to protect your hands from the cold and dry air.

-Remember the sunscreen. The sun can be just as damaging in the winter as in the summer. That's especially true when sun reflects off snow. Also, use a lip balm that contains sunscreen.

-Use humidifiers. Heated spaces are often dry because the heat takes moisture from the air. Humidifiers put some of that moisture back, helping protect skin. However, people with allergies who require low humidity should be cautious about using humidifiers.

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