Keep Your Skin Healthy & Glowing All Winter Long

Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Winter is just a couple of calendar weeks away, and with the changing weather, your skin is bound to be affected. Cold air, harsh winds, and pumped-up indoor heat can increase facial tissue sensitivity and leave the skin feeling and looking tight, dry, and flaky. If your goal is to avoid the sallow winter complexion that affects so many of us, diligently sticking to your skin-care regimen may not be enough right now.
Fortunately, with proper care, you can keep your dewy, healthy skin aglow. Read on to learn about how to avoid the most common mistakes I see people making during the winter season.
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Over-Moisturizing And/Or Using The Wrong Moisturizer
If you are acne-prone, and your skin is feeling tight and dry, adding an extra thick coat of moisturizer may actually increase clogged pores, bumps, and breakouts. Because the skin acts like a sponge and can only absorb so much, causing the rest to sit on the surface of the skin where it can potentially block pores. The solution is to use the right moisturizer for your skin type and add an oil-free skin serum underneath for additional hydration.

On the other hand, if you have dry skin and find that, no matter what you use, you still can’t get your skin moist, this is a time to make sure you’re using a moisturizer with the most effective ingredients for repairing dryness. These ingredients include safflower oil, soybean oil, sweet almond oil, squalane, cranberry oil, carrot oil, sunflower oil, linoleic acid, ceramides, rosehip oil, tocopheryl linoleate, shea butter, phospholipids, or evening primrose oil. Using a moisturizer with a high percentage of one of these ingredients (or ideally a couple of them) on a regular basis will help in correcting the lack of oil and hydration deep within the skin, ultimately repairing the lipid moisture barrier to encourage moist, supple and smooth skin.
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Not Sealing Moisture In On Time
There is a one-minute window after cleansing when skin is damp — and this is the time to seal in moisture and prevent dehydration. Since the air is so arid in the winter, it looks for water wherever it can get it and this means taking it from skin when it’s most vulnerable — after cleansing. When the skin on the face is damp, dry air will draw water out from the deep layers of the skin to the surface where it will evaporate through a process called osmosis. The result is even tighter, drier skin — no matter how gentle your cleanser may be. Within 60 seconds of cleansing, you should immediately apply an alcohol-free toner to damp skin. Follow that with moisturizer to help keep moisture deep in the skin where it belongs. In addition to performing your skin-care routine quickly, using a humidifier in the winter and also skipping the use of the bathroom exhaust fan while showering will allow for extra moisture in the air, leaving more in your skin.
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Licking Lips And Forgetting Lip Balm
The cold winter air can affect the skin on the lips, causing them to become dry and flaky, just like the rest of the face. While licking your lips may provide temporary moisture and relief, it will really only leave the skin drier than it was to begin with. When the lips are moistened by saliva, they attract moisture within the skin to the surface of the lips where it will evaporate through osmosis. Additionally, digestive enzymes in saliva can break down the skin causing the corners of your lips to crack.

The best way to fix and heal dry, cracked lips is to use a well-formulated, conditioning lip balm throughout the day. Some menthol lip balms can be irritating, so it is best to avoid these if you’re not getting a positive result from using. Exfoliating the lips can also help remove dry skin. And, you can make a quick lip exfoliant at home by adding a little sugar to some coconut or almond oil. Simply smooth over the lips to create an exfoliating DIY lip treatment.
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Not Adjusting Your Skin-Care Routine
Severe drops in the temperature can not only affect skin but also effectiveness of your current products. This might mean you need to switching from a foaming face wash to a gentler cleansing lotion come snow season. And, don't forget that using a serum underneath your moisturizer can really give skin a boost of much-needed hydration. If skin begins to feel more sensitive than usual, then your existing routine may need to be adjusted with soothing, anti-redness, and barrier repair ingredients. Consult with a trusted aesthetician or skin-care professional to put together an at-home routine that will properly address your individual skin type and its needs, especially at this time of year.
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Slacking On Exfoliation
While it’s an extra step in your skin routine, exfoliation is absolutely necessary for the health of the skin — especially in winter. When dry, flaky skin is present, it indicates that these cells have expired. Using heavy moisturizers, skin oils, or cream masks to try to reduce them and make the skin moist will not get rid of the dry skin flakes dotting the surface of your skin. Instead, you must remove these dead cells with a gentle, alcohol-free glycolic or lactic acid serum a few evenings a week. You can put on your night cream immediately after the serum has been applied. This will encourage removal of dry skin so fresh new cells can readily accept moisture. You can also use a facial scrub a few times a week for gentle exfoliation (use a product with round jojoba beads, not natural grains with sharp edges to avoid lacerating the skin’s surface, which could cause damage to the barrier).
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Skipping Sunscreen
The sun's UV rays are responsible for changes in the DNA of the skin, which can lead to early lines, wrinkles, brown spots, and sagging. As these rays are almost the same strength in the winter as they are in the summer, you should not be neglectful of your sunscreen application throughout this less-bright season. Remember that UV light is the number one cause of premature skin aging, making sunscreen the best anti-aging product on the market. UV rays can also interfere with skin-barrier function and prevent skin from maintaining proper moisture levels.

Don’t be frustrated with dry, flaky skin for one more winter. Make my recommended adjustments, and you are sure to have smooth skin all winter long.

If you have any specific questions for me, post a comment below and I will share my expert advice.
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