As a wise, strapping warrior once warned: "Winter is coming." While you may not have White Walkers to fear while braving the elements, harsh cold can wreak havoc on your complexion. "As winter temperatures fall and the air gets drier, your skin pays the price," says Dr. Joshua Zeichner, a dermatologist and director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City. In frigid conditions, he explains, the skin is less able to protect itself. "This can lead to cracks in the outer layer of skin, loss of hydration, and ultimately, inflammation," he says.
Many of us can benefit from a skin-care upgrade to combat the blustery months ahead. To counter the drying effect, Zeichner and Dr. Jennifer MacGregor, a clinical professor of dermatology at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City and dermatologist at Union Square Laser Dermatology, suggest using thicker moisturizers equipped to help protect the skin's barrier. Another skin saver? Kinder, gentler cleansers that hydrate (rather than harsh exfoliating or foam formulations), since skin irritation can increase along with dryness in winter months.
Finally, an effort to hyper-hydrate and soothe the skin should never come at the cost of ditching daily sun protection. Sure, you may not see as much of the sun during the next few months, but UVA rays — the aging and cancer-causing rays that penetrate through windows and clouds, and into the deepest layer of skin — are still kicking, all day, every day.
As you gear up to do battle with the elements, holiday shoppers, and other forms of winter warfare, here’s how to keep your skin glowing — even in the shortest and darkest of days.