If you suffer from winter-dry skin, chill out! The right moisturizer can help you face the season.
As Canadians, we should know a thing or two about frosty weather. After all, in a country where temperatures can dip as low as -23◦C during the winter months, we wouldn’t dream of leaving home without a proper coat, hat and gloves. Still, there’s one thing we usually forget to protect: our skin. The triple threat of cold, wind and low humidity levels can wreak havoc on an unprepared complexion.
“The colder the outside air is, the less moisture your skin can hold,” says Dr. Lydia Evans, a consulting dermatologist for L’Oreal Paris. Add to that to the daily routine of going from a heated home or office into the frigid air and back again and you’ve got a recipe for dry, flaky, irritated skin. “These abrupt (temperature) changes stress the skin’s natural moisture barrier,” says Mary Begovic Johnson, principal scientist for P & G Beauty. Recent tests have even made a preliminary link between the season’s dehydrating conditions and (gasp!) wrinkles.
So, what’s the key to warding off winter’s cruel assault? Make a pre-emptive strike in the form of a serious skin-care strategy.
The most important step is to moisturize – but it’s not as easy as grabbing the lotion that got you through the summer months. Winter weather demands that you trade up for a moisturizer that contains a mix of both humectants (such as glycerine, sorbital, urea and hyaluronic acid) work by attracting water molecules to the outer layer of the skin. Emollients (such as petrolatum, mineral oil, shea butter and lanolin) form a protective layer over the top of the epidermis.
Your skin type should dictate the ratio you choose: lotions with more humectants are lightweight and good for oily complexions, while emollient-based formulas are usually heavier. If your skin is ultra-dry, it’s the thickness of the cream that matters, says Dr. Lisa Kellett, a Toronto-based dermatologist. “These emollients form a physical barrier to prevent water from evaporating from the skin.” Always apply moisturizer when your skin is still damp. “Because the top layer of the skin changes its properties to hold water, it’s more permeable to the product when wet explains Kellett.