The Best Winter Skin Care

Cynthia Bailey, MD|November 10, 2011

You can count on winter weather to dry and chap your skin. I see it every year in my dermatology practice.  Modify your skin care regimen now before your skin really dries out; keep your skin healthy, soft and well hydrated all winter long by tweaking your skin care in simple ways that make a huge difference. The harsh winter climate will always chap your skin.  Your most vulnerable areas include your hands, lips and face.  General dryness on your arms and legs can also lead to eczema.

Prevent this seasonal skin breakdown it by using the right non-drying cleansers and  moisturizers, and knowing how to use them correctly.

The key skin care changes you need to make for healthy winter skin include:

Moisturize your skin immediately after washing.

  • For your body that means after the bath or shower
  • For your face that usually means morning and night
  • For your hands that means many times during the day.
  • For your lips it means coating them throughout the day with a hydrating lip balm, especially when you're outdoors or in hot, dry, indoor air

Use gentle cleansers only, use them only where you need them, and rinse them off your skin thoroughly with warm water.

  • For your body that usually means lathering up only the parts of your skin that have the body odor glands (you know where they are!) including your armpits, groin, buttocks and feet.  If you have oily skin you also need to use cleanser on the oily areas of your back, neck and chest too.
  • For your face use the mildest cleanser that does the job.  Don’t shoot for that tight ‘squeaky clean’ feeling after washing because it means that you removed too much of your natural oils and actually irritated your skin.
  • For your hands it means using cleanser only on your palms most of the time; skin on the back of your hand rarely gets into germs and grime, and it’s so much more fragile and prone to dryness.  Also, rinse all the cleanser out from between your fingers where ‘dish pan’ hands usually starts because of retained soap residue.

What are the best products for your winter skin care?

The best winter skin cleansers are gentle!

Use only gentle cleansers that don’t strip your skins natural oils, breaking-down your skin’s fragile outer barrier.  Your skin is protected from chapping by this outer dead skin cell layer called the stratum corneum.   The foaming agent in many soaps remove your natural lipids (oils) that hold this layer together, causing the layer to weaken.  When you take that weakened layer into harsh weather and temperature extremes it can't hold up.  Switch your cleansers for winter.

The gentle skin cleansers that I recommend for winter skin care are.....

Products with blue links & photos are available on my site by clicking the link.  The others can be purchased from other online retailers, local pharmacies or Whole Foods stores.

Facial Cleansers

Toleriane Cleanser

which is the gentlest cleanser I've ever found.

toleriane cleanser

Calming Zinc soap

always the ideal facial cleanser if you also have rosacea, facial seborrhea or acne and sensitive skin.

calming zinc

Neutrogena Extra Gentle Cleanser is another mild, non-medicated cleanser.

General Face, Body and Hands Skin Cleansers

Glycerin bar soaps such as Whole Food’s 365 Brand glycerin bar and Clearly Natural glycerin bar soap

L’ Occitane Shea Butter Extra Gentle Soap

Gentle Hand Cleansers

Keep a pump bottle of one of these at your kitchen sink and use it instead of dish washing soap to wash your hands, you’ll be surprised how much that simple step improves the chapping of your hands.

Clearly Natural Liquid Glycerin Hand Soap

Avalon Organics Glycerin Hand Soap

The best winter skin moisturizers are richly hydrating!

Moisturize with richly hydrating skin moisturizers immediately after washing any part of your skin.  Moisturizers only work if they are applied right after you've had your skin in water because they don’t moisturize they trap the water that you just soaked-up into your skin when your skin was wet.  To effectively moisturize your skin you need to towel dry after washing and immediately apply your moisturizer.  Pick your moisturizer based on your skin type and the area of your skin that you're treating.

The skin moisturizers I recommend for winter skin care are .....

Richly Hydrating Facial and Body Creams For Winter Skin Care

All Natural Face and Body Butter Cream and Lotions made from natural, organic healing and deeply hydrating oils.  They can be used from head to toe to keep all your winter skin healthy.

Natural Face and Body Butter Cream   All Natural Face, Hand and Body Lotion

 

Daily Moisturizing Face Creams  The Oily to Normal Skin cream hydrates oily skin without adding to your natural oils and the Dry to Normal cream enriches the lipid content of normal to dry skin.  These are the products I sell in my office and they’re cleverly formulated by my favorite skin chemist, compatible with almost all therapeutic skin care regimens and made with only the best ingredients  – plus they’re well priced.

Glytone Face Creams with glycolic acid are both richly hydrating and they soften wrinkles and lighten age spots at the same time.  glytone face cream 2

Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizer.  This is an old standby that people have loved for years.

Dr. Hauschka’s Rose Cream a richly hydrating natural skin care moisturizer.

Richly Hydrating Body Moisturizers For Winter Skin Care

Glytone Body Lotion with the AHA glycolic acid.  AHA Anti Aging Body Lotion

To understand why professional strength glycolic acid products actually enhance you skin barrier strength while they also exfoliate your skin to a dewy, soft luster read my post on glycolic acid.

Amlactin Cream with the AHA lactic acid.  This widely available skin cream can be purchased at most pharmacies.  It does many of the things that Glytone Body Lotion does, though with less skin scale removing power.

Jojoba Oil.  The active ingredient in most moisturizers is just the oil and you can get right to the point by using jojoba, which is excellent skin moisturizing oil.

Vani Cream. A hypoallergenic moisturizer that’s my ‘go to’ moisturizer for severely chapped skin that's breaking down into eczema.  (We sell this in the office and you can call us to order it.) After a month or two of daily Vani Cream, most people can move up to an AHA moisturizer that keeps skin in really good overall shape.

Richly Hydrating Hand Cream For Winter Skin Care

Dry Skin Hand Cream  This non-greasy formula hydrates and protects your hand skin.  It’s non-greasy and in an easy to pack tube that’s best used many times during the day; apply it after washing and see what a difference it makes to your hand skin.

Bag Balm  Severely chapped hands benefit from a night time treatment of Bag Balm; soak your hands for 5 minutes or more in warm water (eg. take a shower or bath or do the dishes), apply Bag Balm and cover with cotton gloves for at least 30 minutes and ideally overnight.

Richly Hydrating Lip Balm For Winter Skin Care

My advice is to avoid the seductive ‘healing lip balm’ ingredients that often get you addicted to lip balm; these ingredients can actually chap your lips, leaving your running for more lip balm.  Yes it’s true! I recommend using lip balms made from only the active moisturizing ingredients and my favorite lip hydrating ingredient is shea butter.  The products I recommend are:

Ceralip, in a handy tube that’s easy to take with you and use all day.

ceralip

L’Occitane Shea Butter Lip Balm Stick

I've added more posts than normal to the 'related posts' list below because these are some of the most common winter questions that people ask me about in my dermatology practice. I hope you'll find more answers to your winter skin problems in them!  Are there any questions you have that I didn't answer?  Send them to me.

Photo: Thanks and Gratitude to Muffet

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