What you need to know to keep your skin healthy year-round
By Bri Williams, RN, BSN, Refined Aesthetics Med Spa, pllc
Baby it’s cold outside, and you may be thinking that your skin needs a little extra TLC. You are not wrong. Adjusting your skin-care routine from hot summer months to the colder days of winter is a great idea to ensure your skin is getting the nourishment and moisture it needs. Here are a few things to keep in mind and keep your skin healthy year-round.
Sunscreen is still a must
It can be easy to forget sunscreen when you wake up to a snow blizzard! The sun’s not shining, so why do you need it? Even in the winter months, you are exposed to UV rays that can cause skin cancers and premature aging. The rays can be even more damaging when they reflect off snow! So, remember to slather up with a broad-spectrum SPF daily, and reapply every two to three hours. There are several powder SPFs on the market that are great for reapplying and will keep your skin protected snow or shine.
Long, hot showers
After a cold day of outdoor activities, nothing sounds better than a long hot shower or a soak in the hot tub. While this is exactly what your body craves, it can dry your skin out. Try to limit your time in hot water, and if you can tolerate it, turn the temperature down a bit. Once out of the water, immediately apply body lotion to lock in moisture and prevent your skin from drying out. If you have been in a hot tub that is chlorinated, rinse off in the shower prior to applying lotion, as the chlorine can be extra drying.
Adjusting your skin care
There are several things to keep in mind as you transition from your summer skin-care routine to your winter routine.
Retinol products are great for cell turnover and help with fine lines, wrinkles, pore size and texture. They can also have side effects of dryness, irritation, redness and light peeling. If you are noticing that your skin feels extra dry, try decreasing the use of your retinol to every other night and/or decreasing the strength. Retinol is available in .25 percent to 1 percent, so going down in strength can help to alleviate some of the negative side effects that are made worse by cold, dry air.
In warmer weather, most of us can get away with a light moisturizer, but the winter air can pull moisture from our skin. You may find you need a heavier moisturizer and need to apply more frequently. Look for one with hyaluronic acid, a carbohydrate cell that can hold up 1,000 times its weight in water. This will help your skin to retain more moisture, and as a bonus, it can help to smooth and plump the skin.
Don’t forget about your hands
The backs of our hands are constantly exposed to the elements and are often neglected. They are also one of the first areas that we begin to show our age. When washing your hands, use lukewarm water rather than hot, and apply a moisturizer immediately after. When applying your sunscreen, put a layer on your hands as well. A cuticle oil before bed will help to keep your hands looking beautiful.
Schedule your skin-care treatments
There are several in-office treatments that cannot be done when you have suntanned skin. Laser hair removal and Intense Pulse Light (IPL) treatments work by hitting the pigment in the skin to either damage a hair follicle or lift discoloration (broken capillaries, brown spots). When the skin is tan at all, the treatment cannot be done. Doing so can result in burns to the skin and/or discoloration. The winter months are a perfect time to complete a series of IPL treatments to even out skin tone and correct age spots/brown spots, or to have unwanted hair removed. You also need to be free of spray tans and avoid waxing and plucking for six weeks prior to scheduling these services.
Chemical peels, microneedling and abrasive skin treatments require you to be out of direct sunlight while healing. That can be nearly impossible during the summer when the lake is calling, so the overcast chilly days of winter are prime time to get your treatments done.
What about the sauna and steam room?
Sauna therapy, steam rooms and hot yoga are a great way to unwind, relax and warm up! And there are countless health benefits as well. Be sure to hydrate before, during and after to prevent dehydration, as this can contribute to dry skin. If you struggle with melasma, a condition in which brown patches appear on the face, be mindful that heat can make the pigment darker and further spread. To prevent worsening melasma, apply a cold compress to your face while in the heat, and cool your face down with cold water immediately afterward. Pigment correcting skin-care products can also help to prevent worsening melasma and correct hyperpigmentation.
There is no reason you cannot have beautiful skin year-round! Make a few adjustments to your routine and schedule your skin-care treatments so you can glow 365 days a year. Consult with your aesthetic provider to determine what skin-care products and treatments are best for you!