9 Ways Winter Is Ruining Your Skin

Here’s a cold hard truth: Winter isn’t pretty. While Olivia Palermo manages to look effortlessly cool in the middle of a polar vortex, the rest of us struggle with static-charged hair, chapped lips, windburned cheeks, cracked hands, flaky scalps, scaly legs, and a generally drab complexion.
Perhaps more irritating than Palermo's snow-time sartorial superiority is feeling like the rest of us mere mortals have zero control over the winter weather that wrecks our skin and hair. But, there’s no need to feel like victims at the whims of Al Roker’s forecast. We asked the best in the beauty business for their proven tactics to battle the winter weather — so you can feel hot, no matter how low the mercury goes.
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We can all use a little recharging during the endless winter season, but a static charge is never a welcome addition to a hairstyle. You see haywire hair more in winter because dry air pulls electrons from your strands, leaving them positively charged so they repel each other.

Adding moisture will help your hair look less shocking, says Anthony Cristiano, founder of the Anthony Cristiano Salon in Chicago. “Your hair is like your skin, and you have to constantly add moisture during winter,” he explains.

A simple fix is to keep a small Evian atomizer on hand. Once you take off your hat, lightly mist your hair and restyle. If you have very dry or coarse hair, Cristiano suggests spraying Phyto Phytomist, a light conditioner, to add a layer of moisturizers that can help fend off a static charge. And, the dryer-sheet trick really works. Rub one inside your hat, over your brush, and on your hair to tame unruly pieces.
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Friction from Arctic breezes causes the burning effect that brings redness to your cheeks. Renee Rouleau, a celebrity esthetician based in Dallas, compares the effect to a slap. Prevention is your best strategy: Wrap your face in a soft scarf and apply a protective balm like Kiehl’s Cross Terrain UV Face Protector SPF 50 before spending a day outside.

If you’ve hit the slopes, apply a moisturizing mask après ski. And, since chapped skin is irritated skin, Rouleau says you need to calm and repair the area with healing oils and anti-inflammatory agents like green tea and cucumber. Try Fresh Rose Face Mask.
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Wrinkles are totally natural and totally cool in our book. But, if you’re seeing deeper-than-usual lines around your eyes, it’s probably due to dehydration and not all those hours squinting at your screen. (Though, don't do that either!) Short of wearing sunglasses in a snowstorm, the key to keeping that delicate area hydrated is eye cream. With Restorsea’s formula of Vibransea™ complex and circulation-improving hesperidin, crow’s feet won’t stand a chance. The one-two punch combines enzymes from baby salmon and natural ingredients found in citrus fruit for improved texture around your pretty peepers. Hey, the more you know, the better you can keep your skin looking its absolute best for years to come. Science: 1, crow’s feet: 0.

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After your face, your hands probably receive the worst beating from winter elements. Your skin is already dehydrated due to the dry air, and every time you get your hands wet, more moisture evaporates. Moisture is the simple answer, according to Jin Soon Choi, a celebrity manicurist based in New York City and creator of Jin Soon Nail Polish.

“Consistently moisturizing your hands will go a long way in preventing the skin on your hands from cracking,” Choi says. “Never do dishes or clean house without gloves,” she explains. “Direct contact with water isn’t good.” Apply a new layer of lotion every time you wash your hands or take off your gloves.

Choi suggests doing damage control at night. Her prescription is to apply cuticle oil to keep your nails moisturized, apply a layer of heavy hand cream, and sleep in a pair of cotton gloves. For serious cracks, treat your hands to a paraffin treatment during your next manicure.
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As your tissue consumption rises, so does your nose’s flake factor. Of course, cold and flu season causes congestion, which means you’ll have to blow your nose more often. But, the cold weather also stimulates mucous production in an effort to keep your nose moisturized, so your nostrils easily flare up.

“Keep as much moisture around your nose as you can,” Rouleau says. “Use moisturizing tissues because they’ll be less scratchy and irritating.” Rouleau also advises keeping moisturizer handy and applying as often as you use tissue. She recommends her Phytolipid Comfort Cream for calming irritation.
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Since you won’t see bare legs for quite some time, it’s easy to neglect the skin below your neck. But, wearing tights, tall boots, and pants speeds up the dehydration cycle making your legs look rather reptilian.

“Immediately after a bath or shower, your skin acts like a sponge and this is the best time to apply moisturizer,” says Dr. Gervaise Gerstner, a dermatologist in New York City. She suggests swapping your standard-issue lotion with a body oil like Caudalie Divine Oil to ensure maximum hydration.

Once the skin on your legs and feet has developed a thick, scaly layer, you need to exfoliate with a glycolic lotion to remove the skin. Try AmLactin Ultra Triple Action Alpha Hydroxy Acid Hydrating Body Cream to soften dead skin.

To keep your soles soft, apply a thin layer of Aquaphor to your feet before slipping on warm socks. And, Dr. Gerstner warns never to cut your skin with a razor during a pedicure, or you risk infection. Instead, use a file if you need to tackle a stubborn callus.
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Your scalp is skin, too — something that’s easy to forget since it’s covered by hair. And, it also becomes dry, tight, and itchy due to dry, windy weather. To stop flaking, you need to take a gentle approach. Avoid hair-care products with harsh detergents and alcohols, says Christyn Nawrot, national training director for Phyto. Look for sulfate-free shampoos and gentle formulas. You can also massage your scalp with olive oil before you shampoo to help restore moisture.

Until you manage to fight the flakes, wear your hair down and loose. “Avoid pulling your hair back,” Nawrot says. “The tension can cause more dryness.” Brushing regularly with a natural bristle brush will also help gently remove dry skin.
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Your corneas have temperature receptors and when they sense cold, your body responds with a tearing reflex, explains Dr. Cristina Schnider, an optometrist and senior director of professional communications for Johnson & Johnson.

This response doesn’t offer any protection for your eye makeup. To avoid arriving to your destination with raccoon eyes, you need long-wear and waterproof formulas in the coldest weather. Tarte Lights. Camera, Splashes 4-in-1 Waterproof Mascara has been known to stand up to even Notebook levels of emotional outpourings.
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This is the time of year to develop an oral fixation — or at least a fixation with lip balm and gloss. “You need a protective layer to prevent chapping,” says Dr. Gerstner. Try Vaseline Lip Therapy.

At the first sign of lizard lips, gently exfoliate with a soft toothbrush or washcloth, and then moisturize with a balm or ointment, Dr Gerstner says. Avoid lip liner and matte lipsticks because they tend to have drier consistencies and will cake up around any dry areas. Highly pigmented glosses are your best bets for adding color in colder months.
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“In the winter, your goal is to protect your skin from inside heat and the extreme cold outside,” says Rouleau. “Both elements create microscopic cracks in the skin, allowing moisture to escape and irritants to penetrate.”

As moisture escapes, dead skin cells collect on the surface, sucking all the life out of your complexion. You need to exfoliate to remove those dead cells and allow your moisturizer to work more effectively. Rouleau says a gentle acid exfoliator is your best option. “With an exfoliating serum, there’s no rubbing or tugging, so there’s less chance of causing irritation,” she says. Look for an exfoliating serum containing glycolic acid like Rouleau’s AHA Smoothing Serum 10%.

You can’t just slap any old moisturizer on top, either. “If you don’t have the right ingredients to seal those microscopic cracks, you won’t really solve the problem.” Roleau likes hydrating lipids or oils to repair winter-battered skin. Look for ingredients including ceramides, borage oil, linoleic acid, safflower oil, or shea butter. Try CeraVe Moisturizing Cream.
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