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Dr. T: Battle Against Winter Dry Skin Begins Now

With the onset of winter weather, dry skin becomes a bigger problem due to cold windy weather conditions and hot forced air from heating systems. As such, it’s that much more important in winter to moisturize dry, damaged skin. Not only will this keep the skin supple, but it will ease the look of wrinkles and aging. The minute you step outside on a blustery day, you’re going to have to battle windburn. The best way to avoid the pain (and look) of chapped skin is to cover up. First, apply a heavier-than-normal moisturizer with petrolatum to moisturize the skin, as well as to protect it from the wind. Then cover your face with a scarf or some other kind of barrier. If windburn occurs, apply a soothing balm overnight, and by morning, you should show improvement. It’s wise to adopt a morning and evening skin care regimen that can keep your skin looking fresh and healthy as well as repair damage. In general, everyone should follow a basic skin care regimen that cleanses, protects, and moisturizes. That means cleaning your skin with a cleanser that’s right for your skin type such as a foaming gel for oily skin or a cream cleanser for dry skin, followed by a moisturizer that contains sunscreen of at least SPF 15. The only safe tan is one from a bottle (self-action tanner). Getting a tan from the sun or tanning bed exposes you to harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays that not only accelerate aging (causing wrinkles and sun spots to form), but also lead to skin cancer. Even if you’re dying to get rid of dry, flaky skin, slow down your exfoliating routine. You may be making the problem worse by removing what few natural oils are left in your skin. It’s far better to moisturize regularly (at least daily) and exfoliate only once a month (thereby mimicking the skin’s natural exfoliation process). Products that contain antioxidants, alpha hydroxy acids (AHA), peptides, retinoids, and bleaches can enhance results. In general, a good morning skin care program should be designed to “protect” your skin, whereas the evening program should “repair” it. A simple three-step program can be employed:

  • Morning (Protect)
  • 1) Wash Face
  • 2) Apply antioxidant serum
  • 3) Apply moisturizer with SPF
  • Evening (Repair)
  • 1) Wash Face
  • 2) Apply anti-aging or fading cream (depending on problem)
  • 3) Apply moisturizer

A good moisturizer helps to trap water in the skin which can diminish the appearance of fine lines and make your complexion brighter. More expensive products are not necessarily more effective, but they do have better packaging. There are some very effective, affordable over-the-counter products widely available in drugstores. Look for combination products (those that contain both moisturizers and sunscreens). Even “hypoallergenic” products can produce an allergic reaction in sensitive individuals. As with any new product, try the product in an inconspicuous area for a few days before applying over your entire face.