10 Skin Care Tips For Protecting Your Face From The Sudden Chill

Now that fall has arrived, it’s time to prepare your skin for the coming of a New York City winter. Because, let’s face it, the cold season is really nothing to mess with: below-freezing temperatures, snow that seems to “fall” at all angles, winds that seem to want to carry you up the street — and not in a good way. Let’s also add blasting indoor heat that can send you from wet and shivering to dry and roasting within mere minutes and you — and your face — have a situation on your hands. Dry skin, irritation, redness, chapping, flaking and — eek! — premature wrinkles and aging are all the result of cold-weather's handiwork. NOT fun.
In our book, the best defense is a good offense, and our winters can be met face on with some easy tips to help you keep your youthful complexion while Old Man Winter (or fall!) does his thing. So, let’s talk about how to prepare your skin to survive the NYC weather, because according to the Farmer’s Almanac, this season’s going to be a doozy.
The thing is, are New York winters really “special” when it comes to skin care concerns? Evidently, yes. We spoke to board-certified dermatologist and GoodSkin Labs Global Dermatologist Dr. Paul Jerrod Frank and asked him, quite frankly, what makes NYC winters particularly difficult.
"The Northeast is an interesting place to live in terms of skin care and skin issues,” says Dr. Frank.”Not only do we deal with extreme heat and humidity in the summer (which can cause oily skin and enlarged pores), we have the cold in the winter which leads to dry, chapped, and irritated skin. Both skin issues can cause the skin not to look its best, to look aged. The challenges that make living in NYC unique are the additional environmental aggressors like pollution and smog that can effect and harm the skin, speeding up the aging process. As a lifetime New Yorker, I’ve seen firsthand how these free radicals are detrimental to the skin.
So, we’re special. We knew that. But now, how do we go about protecting our skin from environmental factors in addition to the biting chill? Here are 10 quick and easy tips to help you save face in the coming months as the mercury drops.
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Get yourself some steam – In addition to drinking copious amounts of water, this is the best way to cheat and add water back into your skin without all the work. Sitting in your steam room at the gym helps, but a good humidifier in the bedroom will give you “vacation skin” on a regular basis by adding the right amount of moisture to your environment to prevent dryness and premature aging. Seriously, try it.

Air-O-Swiss Ultrasonic Digital Warm and Cool Mist Humidifier, $199.99, available at Bed Bath and Beyond
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Soak in a good serum — Serums are magical items all year round, but the addition of a serum under a night cream could be the difference between looking like Charlize Theron or Larry King come spring. A good serum seals much-needed moisture into the skin and can add necessary vitamins and nutrients to your face to help it repair the damage done during the day.

Kate Somerville Quench Hydrating Face Serum, $65 to $98, available at Bergdorf Goodman.
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Switch to a rich moisturizer and night cream — People, in no other time of year is moisturizer more important. Winter winds and bitter cold temperatures paired with surface-of-the-sun blasts of gas and electric heat literally sap your skin of moisture that it needs to survive. Go for the trifecta - moisturize in the morning before you leave the house, use makeup with moisturizing properties, then apply a rich night cream that will seal the deal while you sleep.

Korres Quercetin & Oak Antiaging & Antiwrinkle Night Cream, $52, available at Sephora.
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Combat wrinkles where they live – You should be combating wrinkles all year long, but these products have a particular task in winter, when environmental factors that cause them are at an all-time high. Be sure to add a wrinkle-busting product that contains retinoids to speed cellular turnover and peptides to help increase cells from the inside, preventing the collapse of skin over time.

Bliss Firm Baby Firm, $75, available at Bliss.
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Exfoliate your face – GENTLY – You will have to get your scrub on even in the winter, but this is where you have to use an especially gentle hand so you don’t create micro tears in the skin that can lead to premature wrinkles. Use a fine exfoliant and apply in gentle, circular motion. The rule of thumb is that you would wash your face in the same way as you would wash a silk shirt. Save the aggressive moves for your countertops, go easy on your face.

Kiehl’s Since 1851 Photo-Age Deep-Action Exfoliating Cleanser, $22, available via Kiehl’s.
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Protect your skin when you leave the house – The best defense is a good offense and that means covering your face before you step outside into winds whipping back and forth harder than Willow Smith. Coats that zip up to the nose, huge scarves, giant hats – don’t be a hero out there, cover UP. Also adding an additional layer of moisture on a particularly brutal day can help protect you from premature aging – and crying when you reach the heat of your destination.

J.Crew Cashmere Wrap, $275, available at J.Crew.
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Cut down on complex carbohydrates and alcohol – Look, we know it’s hard to pass up the litany of baked goods and booze that’s coming with all the holiday parties and whatnot, but let’s be honest here: Sugar and complex carbohydrates are a beast when it comes to irritating your skin and pulling much-needed moisture out of the body. Go easy on the baked goods, do everything you can to eliminate processed sugar from your diet and, well, we can’t tell you not to imbibe, but try to drink a glass of water for every alcoholic beverage. Not only will your face thank you, but your hangovers might be non-existent. Now, there’s a thought.

Go Cocktails! Sugar-Free Cocktail Mixes, $5 - $25, available via Amazon.com.
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Lower the water temperature – Even though scalding hot water can feel amazing when it seems like your face is going to fall off from bitter cold, it actually dries your skin, which starts the vicious cycle all over again. Go with warm water, and if you do encounter too-hot water, a cool replenishing mist applied to the skin can help stop the damage before it starts.

Ole Henriksen African Red Tea Face Mist, $28, available at Sephora.
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Wear sunscreen every single day — Oh, I’m sorry, have you not heard that even when the snow is falling the sun is STILL shining, which means you also have to worry about those damaging rays. Dr. Frank notes “It’s important to wear SPF every day, but women living in NYC should find a product infused with antioxidants that protect, repair and prevent the signs of aging.”

GoodSkin Labs Exten-10 Instant Youth Boosting Moisturizer SPF 15, $44.50, available at Kohl’s.
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Switch to a gentle cleanser — Drying, harsh winter weather means going all sorts of gentle if you want your skin to survive the beating it’s about to take. Switching to a mild cleanser ensures you’re removing dirt, sweat and environmental grossness, but that you’re not going to strip it of vital moisture that it will need to stay supple and youthful in the face of a harsh winter. Honestly, a gentle cleanser says “I’m sorry” to your face for everything it’s suffered throughout the day.

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser, $11, available at drugstore.com.